King Lear (BAM)
Closed 3h 15m
King Lear (BAM)
80

King Lear (BAM) NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(58 Reviews)
Positive
88%
Mixed
10%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense, Great staging

About the Show

BAM's presentation of the RSC production of Shakespeare's great tragedy features Olivier Award-winning actor Sir Antony Sher as the all-too-trusting monarch in the twilight of his sanity.

Read more Show less

Member Reviews (58)

Sort by:
  • Default
  • Standing in our community
  • Highest first
  • Lowest first
  • Newest first
  • Oldest first
  • Only positive
  • Only negative
  • Only mixed
80
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you like WS; RSC is the gold standard. KL is intelligent and accessible. The words can be (mostly) understood. A flaw: Sher disappoints.

Don't see it if Lear upsets you (enucleated eye scene is gory!) The sets are minimal, but have majesty. Many strong actors, w/standouts Goneril & Edmund. Read more

83
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Dizzying, Confusing

See it if you are a fan of Shakespeare done traditionally, want to see a production of Lear, like the actor Anthony Sher & English actors' voices

Don't see it if 3-1/2 hours is too long to sit, you can't understand the Bard's English, find it difficult to keep track of actors in multiple roles,

Critic Reviews (25)

The New York Times
April 12th, 2018

"It may sound like a backhanded compliment to praise this show as a good introductory 'King Lear,' one you could take restless 10th graders to, but it is not...Making Shakespeare flow in a stylistically coherent production is not easy...Every syllable here resonates with a crisp precision that feels earned...Yet there is something a little frustrating about a performance where every inflection, every gesture comes across as the calculated result of a lengthy thought process."
Read more

Time Out New York
April 13th, 2018

"Sher is miscast in the part, and this central instability throws the play's whole system into disarray. To be sure, he is an extraordinary actor...But his oiled stylizations don't work for a character who falls apart...Doran doesn't help him: Bizarre staging choices...The sheer number of half-thought ideas hoisted and quickly abandoned in this production testifies to a lack of confidence...You can still hear some wonderful language...But you'll be doing a lot of the heavy digging yourself."
Read more

New York Magazine / Vulture
April 15th, 2018

"This may not be the most explosive 'Lear' you've ever seen, but it might be the smartest...Doran's production is both meticulous and majestic, and Sher's declining monarch is a fiercely precise performance, if not always a heartrending one - I couldn't always feel their 'Lear,' but I could always see it...The play is rich with imagery of sight and sightlessness...Intellectually wide-ranging, necessarily imperfect, but one that undoubtedly helps us see Shakespeare's Everest better."
Read more

Theatermania
April 12th, 2018

"Despite an excellent cast, it's really Sher's forceful presence and exquisite comedic timing that buoys the production when it seems in danger of foundering under Gregory Doran's inspired but incongruous direction...Had this simple but captivating aesthetic remained consistent throughout, the production would have been tremendously affecting. But Doran strays from this vision with the disappointingly static storm scene...Fortunately, Sher's scenes get the show back on track."
Read more

Lighting & Sound America
April 13th, 2018

"Under Doran's direction, virtually every performance casts a light on this awful procession of human folly...There are occasional touches that grate...But there are many more moments that contribute to an overwhelmingly powerful whole...Most of all, there is Sher's Lear...He offers an especially tender reading of the final speech, completing the character's journey from the apex of power to a state of nothingness...At this production, pity and terror are guaranteed."
Read more

New York Stage Review
April 13th, 2018

"Sometimes thrillingly inspired, sometimes workmanlike revival...Much of Sher's performance is marked by unadulterated shouting...There are eye- and ear-catching performances from Troughton as self-deluded Gloucester, Ndiweni as a lovely but determined Cordelia, Graham Turner's Fool, Antony Bryne's furious Kent, Clarence Smith's authoritative Albany, and Byron Mondahl's vituperative Oswald."
Read more

New York Stage Review
April 12th, 2018

"Everything about this Royal Shakespeare Company production—from Niki Turner’s lavish costumes to the 12 local amateur actors in assorted nonspeaking roles to a bloody eye-gouging scene that would make Martin McDonagh proud—says epic...Sher’s performance, however, isn’t as massive as you might be expecting...You’ll likely never see a better bastard Edmund than Paapa Essiedu...If you’ve never seen 'King Lear,' seeing Antony Sher, directed by Gregory Doran, is a rare, rare treat."
Read more

TheaterScene.net
April 20th, 2018

"The Royal Shakespeare Company's latest King Lear, as directed by Gregory Doran, is one that needs no explanation and no program notes. At one and the same time both medieval and contemporary, this production solves many of the questions that often go unanswered. Sir Antony Sher in a glorious cap to his career gives a memorably luminous and unambiguous performance in the title role which should stand as a bar by which others will be measured."
Read more

Theatre is Easy
April 14th, 2018

"Themes of truth versus lip service and of human fragility are incredibly relevant today...Doran's production does not go out of its way to force feed these themes to its audience, instead letting the text speak for itself...Every company member plays at the top of their abilities. There's that certain comforting thrill when you can feel, but are not distracted by, the skill and technique of each performer. Sher is phenomenal as Lear...Shakespeare performed and produced really well."
Read more

Front Mezz Junkies
April 16th, 2018

"It’s no wonder it is seen as a touchstone for an older actor to conquer, and Sher gives us a Lear to remember. His descent to powerlessness is quick and merciless, but sadly his madness doesn’t resonate as solidly...The actors are all absolutely giving us the finest reading of the text possible, presenting us with a flawless reading of a benchmark play, but for all the precision, the traditional direction fail to bring us an emotional connection to the fall."
Read more

Exeunt Magazine
April 20th, 2018

"This 'Lear' feels like somewhat of a hybrid, torn between its traditional impulses and more modern touches. Fortunately Sher and his talented castmates keep the focus squarely on the text through their performances. Their contributions make this an affecting and ultimately rewarding production despite its occasional missteps, well worth its three-plus hour running time for the pleasure of savoring a most excellently-acted, handsome production."
Read more

DC Theatre Scene
April 13th, 2018

"Doran's often visually arresting if rarely shattering production...Sher as Lear seems like a tired, distracted old guy ready for retirement. As a result, there is a less vertiginous descent...Sher does have some powerful moments...Troughton is deeply moving as Gloucester, Johnstone is engaging as the soil-smeared pretend-mad Edgar, and Essiedu makes an impressive U.S. stage debut...There is enough to see – to keep one involved, if not always transfixed."
Read more

Broadway & Me
April 22nd, 2018

"The director has come up with staging innovations that uses supernumeraries to play the wretched residents of Lear's kingdom and a big Plexiglas box that's probably supposed to symbolize something but, in all honesty, I can't figure out what...Nearly everyone, from Sher to the actors playing the servants, speaks the Bard's lines beautifully...But none of the performances made me feel anything even though this is perhaps the saddest of Shakespeare's plays."
Read more

Stage Left
April 8th, 2018

"Director Gregory Doran presents a stately and unfussy production, and Sir Sher does a fine job in this titanic and much-coveted role, but it is Oliver Johnstone as Edgar who stands out...A refreshingly diverse ensemble is strong and intense, and the visuals are striking, making for an excellent, if straight-forward production of one of Shakespeare’s most-celebrated masterpieces."
Read more

Off Off Online
April 17th, 2018

"Sher's Lear is clearly spoken, emotionally powerful, and authoritative...Humanizing the characters also comes out in Doran's treatment of Goneril and Regan...The parallel plot of Gloucester and his two sons is equally well handled...No 'King Lear' production is ever perfect, but Doran's is a splendid rendering of a great play, and Sher's Lear is every inch a king that devotees of Shakespeare won't want to miss."
Read more

Medium
April 23rd, 2018

"Sher gives an iconic performance...He is captivating...Lear is set up to be our villain, a certainly unique and fresh take by Doran...This (re)interpretation is exciting and bold. However, as the tragedy gears towards a close, the directorial vision falls apart, completely unsupported by the text...This production was not about coherence, it instead chose to embrace the madness of the play and present a 'King Lear' that was beautiful, intense, and felt new. It certainly delivers."
Read more

The Stage (UK)
September 2nd, 2016
For a previous production

"Sher’s Lear feels physically diminished throughout. It’s as if he has shrunk a bit, a grizzled figure drowning in his overflowing robe and Cossack-style hat. His air of authority, as he fatally divides up his kingdom, is continually evaporating...There are some striking modern touches...The most piercingly moving performance comes from David Troughton’s magnificent, towering Gloucester...Strong but not definitive."
Read more

The Guardian (UK)
September 2nd, 2016
For a previous production

"Sher is unbearably moving as the volatile king, in Doran’s stellar production full of standout performances...Doran’s production has strength in depth...The production rests on the intemperate unpredictability of Sher’s Lear. Having shown a beatific gentleness to Cordelia after their defeat, he rounds on their captors with downright violence – a moment that perfectly encapsulates the insane contradictions in the character and the play itself."
Read more

The Telegraph (UK)
September 1st, 2016
For a previous production

"A mightily impressive performance – one that will rank as a crowning achievement in a major career – in a production, directed by Gregory Doran, that is bolted together with clarity, insight, and a relish for the monumental...Sher has the psychological measure of this rash monarch...but there are moments when he succumbs to old-fashioned mannerism...His gravelly delivery, almost as if passing the verse through a rain-stick, doesn’t yield many tonal surprises."
Read more

The Independent (UK)
September 6th, 2016
For a previous production

"A production that unfolds with great clarity and confidence and boldness of gesture...Makes a strong case that Lear is a man more sinning than sinned against in the first movement of the play. Sher is magnificent at the fierce, rebarbative side of this monarch...But there’s a slight inflexibility in his gruff delivery of the verse that prevents it from sounding fully lived in...It’s an evening that moves and impresses but falls short of leaving you, as it should, shattered to the core."
Read more

The London Evening Standard
September 5th, 2016
For a previous production

"Doran ensures there’s a pleasing narrative clarity, but doesn’t always locate the power of Shakespeare’s tragedy...When Gloucester is blinded, the incident takes place in a perspex box...It has the effect of muffling the drama and making its ugliest episode almost camp...The best scene reunites Lear with a desolate Gloucester, and it’s here that Sher is most absorbingly intelligent. But this isn’t an interpretation that fully realises the play’s depths of grief."
Read more

The Times (UK)
September 2nd, 2016
For a previous production

"It’s an absorbing three hours, the best parts of which have a sense of discovery about them that is thrilling. Sher offers such a vivid impression of power fading that you can feel how a mind would warp itself to make sense of such a decline...The evening sags in the middle...Still, the court politicking is dark and dynamic...Doran’s production can’t sustain that sort of intensity for the full three hours. At its best, though, it’s a revelation."
Read more

Financial Times (UK)
September 3rd, 2016
For a previous production

"Sher’s Lear, even at his most ridiculous, is dignified. His madness never becomes a loss of control...Even during the storm episode, his expatiation on poverty and homelessness is lucid...This recurring motif is an augmentation of Doran’s alluding to the acute social situation at the time the play was written...A handful of Doran’s direct­orial touches are not to my taste, but none trips up the narrative, emotional or thematic progress."
Read more

Live Theatre UK
September 1st, 2016
For a previous production

"Doran’s production is as beautiful and lucid as one has come to expect from him. He has a rare ability to ensure that even the most difficult passages in Shakespeare are totally comprehensible, that motivations and narrative points are clear...Sher's Lear is dull...a disconnected, thoroughly unaffecting performance that is as bewildering as it is tiresomely self-indulgent...The production is redeemed, as far as possible anyway, by the triumphant turns from the three Gloucesters."
Read more

What's On Stage (UK)
September 2nd, 2016
For a previous production

"Does it live up to the big build-up? Well, mostly. Sher himself is as monumental as the role...He's never less than mesmerising to watch...Some of the supporting players are running to keep up...Maybe it's the weight of expectation that makes excessive demands on this show, but there is a slight sense of anticlimax...There's no question this is a very fine 'Lear,' with a terrific performance at its heart and lots of additional qualities to commend it. I just wanted it to soar more."
Read more

Watch This Next (3)

87
Excellent
62 Reviews
Ends Jan 2022
NYC: Midtown W

Deirdre O’Connell lip-syncs to recordings of playwrights Lucas Hnath's mother.

Buy
84
Great
246 Reviews
Open run
Six
NYC: Midtown W

An exuberant, pop celebration of 21st century girl power featuring the wives of Henry VIII.

Buy
81
Great
58 Reviews
Ends Jan 2022
NYC: Midtown W

The true story of Reality Winner told through text from the FBI transcript of her interrogation.

Buy