Highly Recommended **** I saw an amazing performance the other night Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, “Songs of Lear”, presented by a Polish company called Song of the Goat. Although the CST website said “Songs of Lear” would be sung in multiple languages, I still had no idea what to expect. What I heard were scenes from “King Lear” in the form of tone poems, only occasionally accompanied by a violin. What I saw was a cast of ten expressing themselves through song, facial expressions and eloquent arm movements. I’ve never heard anything better. I give “Songs of Lear” 4 Spotlights.
Before the performance began, Director Grzegorz Brasl explained his inspiration came from an exhibition of Kandinsky’s paintings. He said that as he walked through the exhibition which ranged from a very small landscape to the largest abstract, he noticed that the same thread ran through all of his paintings. If I understood correctly, he said Kandinsky used three words to describe his process while painting – experimentation, innovation and structure.
He decided to apply that same process to selected scenes from “King Lear” using gestures, words and music. I heard multiple languages, some, like English and Latin, I could identify, others were a mystery to me. My friend Crista, who is Serbian, said she could identify several Slavic passages. There was even a bit of Gregorian chant. Language just didn’t matter. If you’re at all familiar with “King Lear”, their groupings, gestures and faces conveyed meaning very well indeed.
“Songs of Lear” was the highest-rated performance in the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s really a shame that “Songs of Lear” will be in Chicago for such a short time. Kudos to the cast: Anu Almagro, Adam Clifford, Monika Dryl, Rafał Habel, Katarzyna Janekowicz, Jenny Kaatz, Henry McGrath, Maciej Rychły, and Łukasz Wójcik,
“Songs of Lear” runs through September 18th in the Upstairs Theatre at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Navy Pier, Chicago. Running time is just over an hour, no intermission. Check the CST website for remaining performances. Tickets range from $48-$58. Parking is available at a 40% discount in the Navy Pier Garages with validation from CST. FYI (312) 595-5600 or www.chicagoshakes.com.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click on “Songs of Lear”.