King Lear
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Morgan Cowin

Marin Shakespeare Company has gone mad with this summer’s selection of plays at Dominican University’s outdoor theatre in San Rafael. From a mad king to a Mad Hatter to a maddening comedy full of errors, they chose a curious array of tragedy, comedy and mind altering experiences to entertain you.

They open with King Lear, about a leader who causes his own madness by giving away his land and power to his daughters while he is still alive. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child,” Lear (Barry Kraft) quickly realizes when two of his daughters treat him as an outcast once they have his land and power.

One of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays to produce – a virtual poetic soap opera – director Robert S. Currier found the right balance with an excellent cast and just the right touch of comedy to make all the carnage bearable. Based on the Chronicles of Holinshed, King Lear conveys a well-known story, but Shakespeare was the first to give it a tragic ending.

When a man in a position of leadership gives up his power everything falls apart, Shakespeare seems to be saying. First he shows how the man’s family disintegrates which in tern affects the kingdom, civilization and finally the man’s soul affecting his sanity. But humor is Lear’s saving grace for through the brutal honesty of his Fool’s (Matthew Henerson) jokes, Lear begins to realize how foolish he was to give up on his responsibilities, which maintained order, and allow chaos to rule.

But even though he has learned and grown, Lear pays heavily for his mistakes, and in order to drive the point home even stronger, Shakespeare duplicates Lear’s folly in the character of Gloucester (Jack Powell), a loyal vassal to the king, when he falls for a plot devised by his illegitimate son Edmund (Darren Bridgett).

For tickets or more information about King Lear or the rest of Marin Shakespeare’s maddening season call (415) 499-4488 or visit

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