Queens | 2h 30m | Already closed

King Lear (Secret Theatre)

From 5 critic and 38 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Slow, Disappointing, Absorbing

About the show

The Secret Theatre presents a new take on Shakespeare's tragedy, reset in the world of New York City's wealthy real-estate titans. Starring Tony nominee Austin Pendleton as the title character. More…

Lear, suffering the beginnings of Alzheimer's, must divide his empire among his feuding children while wrestling with his own mortality. Alberto Bonilla, known for his timely twists on classic Shakespearean dramas, directs this contemporary reimagining of one of the Bard's most beloved works. 

2h 30m | Already closed | The Secret Theatre (Queens)

Theater Pizzazz

"Starring the consistently compelling and creative Austin Pendleton as Lear...Superbly directed by Alberto Bonilla, the production has an almost bipolar slant...Any good production of 'King Lear' is completely reliant on a solid cast, especially in certain key roles. And Bonilla’s has just the team that works smoothly with Pendleton and possesses the ability to make Shakespeare sound natural in a very contemporary setting...An innovative, exciting version of one of the great plays of all time." Full Review


"The Secret Theatre’s new production resonates deeply with a modern culture made acutely sensitive to the tragedy of dementia...They draw more prancing humor out of Lear‘s scenarios than one usually sees...None of that sacrifices the integrity of Shakespeare’s language and storytelling, the lighthearted sequences as well as the overriding tragedy...A re-conception neither radical nor half-hearted, the result is a respectful and forceful staging." Full Review

The Modernist Beat

"Director Alberto Bonilla and his ensemble focus on developing strong, complex, and believable characters...What I look for in a Shakespeare production is to be shown something new or surprising in a canon I am all too familiar with. Bonilla, Pendleton, Davis, and Macleod made me want to spend time with these characters, and they found something both unexpected and deeply satisfying in the construction." Full Review

Applause! Applause!

“‘King Lear’ has been regarded as one of Shakespeare's supreme achievements. The cast is extremely talented but Austin Pendleton in the lead role was sometimes difficult to understand. While he delivered some excellent monologues, he stumbled over more than a few lines. However, he acted the mad King at the end of the play with flair. The stage props and lighting created a cool and eerie atmosphere that made the personal descent of the King into madness more pronounced. I recommend this show.” Full Review

The Queens Courier

"A brutal tale of betrayal, madness, passion and redemption. No wonder an outstanding cast of professionals from TV, movies and Broadway is required to meet the challenge...Strong, haunting interpretations...The creative team led by director Alberto Bonilla have delivered a crisp, modern version complete with computers and electric guitars." Full Review

Clever, Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Edgy

See it if You like a strong cast in a classic

Don't see it if You are a Shakespeare purist who doesn't want a modern spin on Lear

Ambitious, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if you love Shakespeare, and especially adaptations staging the Bard in more modern periods.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or can't sit through a long play.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Entertaining, Intense

See it if you want to take advantage of seeing the play—in fact, the complete play without cuts.

Don't see it if you’re worried that you won’t find the small theater tucked away in LI City.

Also Fine performances. The music was effectively integrated into the play.... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Funny

See it if You like anything Shakespeare. You want to see a great play with great performers. You want to see a modern take on King Lear.

Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare (who doesn't). You don't like modern versions of Shakespeare. You don't want to see an entertaining play

Ambitious, Edgy, Loud excellent acting ensemble

See it if u want 2 c Legend, Pendelton's Lear supported by an outstanding cast/ r prepared 2 c singing,stage combat & innovative set on a tiny stage

Don't see it if u don't like non-traditional but innovative directing, lots of screaming, excellent acting.

Entertaining, Classic, Really long

See it if You're a fan of Shakespeare. This was a good prosuction.

Don't see it if You don't like modern interpretations or can't sit for three hours.

Resonant, Great staging, Ambitious, Absorbing, Slow

See it if you want to see the great Austin Pendleton in this role! It had some great moments and a fresh take that made me see Lear in a new way.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare, or can't sit through a 3+ hour play (on pretty uncomfortable seats).

Also I appreciated the direction & framing device of this production, explo... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing, Great staging

See it if For Austin Pendleton & Elizabeth Davis. You like your Lear as a character study/psychological drama.

Don't see it if You like your Lear with a larger scope, more political than personal.

Absorbing, Great writing, Great acting

See it if Very good version of Lear; Pendleton is excellent.

Don't see it if you are not a Shakespeare fan; small theater, long play

Slow, Edgy, Great acting

See it if see great acting by Austin Pendleton in an up-front and close production.

Don't see it if conceptual which may not be for everyone. needed more as it didn't do much with the setting. very slow. (okay, I'm not a fan of Lear)

Pendleton can't corral errant.lear cast

See it if Pendleton's aura carries an amateurish production. .Every manner of accent and acting choice is on view, milling around the stage.

Don't see it if My friend had trouble hearing Pendleton, but I did not. Elizabeth Davis, fine as Goneril, is pregnant and her fetus has a bio in the program

Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Great writing

See it if you want to eat at the Court Sq diner and see modern costumes and great acting by Pendleton and cast up close and personal.

Don't see it if you can't sit on the most uncomfortable seats of all shows I've scored for 3 hours. It is a good production that should be seen elsewhere.

Disappointing, Unfaithful to the material, A train wreck, Slow, Ensemble needs work

See it if You want to see Austin Pendleton in a show. You're interested in seeing a production of King Lear.

Don't see it if You want to see Shakespeare or Austin Pendleton at his best.

Great writing, Quirky

See it if You like intimate Shakespeare and can forgive some uneven acting.

Don't see it if You're looking for an ensemble based King Lear that explores every facet of the play. Most of the actors were in different worlds.

Ambitious, This production has the "let's put on a show" feel

See it if you want to support this group. This show seems full of good intentions but still struggling for cohesiveness.

Don't see it if you want to see a perfectly produced, perfectly acted King Lear. The company is uneven in skill and understanding.

Slow, Disappointing

See it if You like intimate spaces and/or Shakespeare in modern dress. See it if you want to get up close and personal with Austin Pendleton.

Don't see it if You are sensitive to tight, uncomfortable seating. If you dislike poorly executed Shakespeare. You can't tolerate shows over 3 hours long.

Also This is the second Shakespeare I have seen at The Secret Theatre, both... Read more Read less

Great writing, Disappointing, Fluffy, Indulgent

See it if you never saw King Lear before and you think that maybe a modern approach to it will ease you into Shakespeare's theater.

Don't see it if you appreciate a good classic staging or at least all actors being on the same page. Mr. Pendleton's great work is not enough to balance all

Also I felt that some actors were doing Shakespeare in the park, like other... Read more Read less

Dated, Disappointing, Dizzying, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You haven't seen King Lear yet. The acting was good, especially King Lear and his three daughters.

Don't see it if You don't want to see a modern interpretation of this classic play in a cheap and small set. And it's too long.

Also Unlike other plays that you don't know what will happen next, this one... Read more Read less

Cliched, Confusing, Great acting, Slow, Disappointing

See it if you live King Lear and want to see another production.

Don't see it if you're looking for a groundbreaking approach to the classic.

Also Generally strong performances in an overall lackluster production. The... Read more Read less

Great acting, Slow, Indulgent, Ambitious

See it if you are interested in watching a delightful few actors do wonders with simplicity and language.

Don't see it if you are unwilling to sit through some less than stellar performances in exchange for a few diamonds in the rough.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Quirky, Slow, Great acting

See it if You are a Shakespeare fan or really want to see some very good acting. Zachary Clarke was a highlight!

Don't see it if You are not a fan of Shakespeare or don't like the classic text of the Bard's done in modern costumes or settings.

Also The concept behind King Lear's downfall (as an alzheimer's patient) wa... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if You're a Shakespeare (or Austin Pendelton) buff who likes to see new iterations of Shakespeare--the bad and the good.

Don't see it if You do not have patience.

Excruciating, Infuriating, Mind-numbing, Slow, Insipid

See it if You absolutely MUST see a production of Lear right this minute and are willing to withstand atrocious performances and an insipid concept.

Don't see it if you enjoy Shakespeare, are familiar with the text of Lear, want to watch well crafted performances

Also There is nothing more abhorrent than sitting down in a theatre to enjo... Read more Read less

Banal, Cliched, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if you know someone in the show and want to go support them, or to support the Secret Theatre because it is a cool space.

Don't see it if you know or like King Lear, or are interested in learning more about King Lear or Shakespeare.

Also While commendable that Bonilla wanted to make this a play about Alzhei... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy fresh interpretations on classics and their characters.

Don't see it if You want to see an uninspired albeit traditional production of Lear.

Also See this show with an open mind and without preconceived notions as to... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (21)