Lear's Daughters

The Morton Players’ production of Lear's Daughters attempts to give an insight into the complex characters of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia from Shakespeare's King Lear by examining their childhood. Though there is undoubtedly talent in this production, it fails to deliver the powerful impact it needs to.

Unfortunately, the show does not have the chilling shock-factor that is needed to leave a lasting impression.

The fault in this show does not lie with the performers. All five actors are very talented and they do a great job with their characters. Sophie Stemmons as the Fool does an especially good job: she is consistently energetic and bouncy, cheerfully interacting with the crowd and not letting their response impact her performance. I particularly enjoyed the way she mimics the sick queen as all three daughters crowd around her, hounding her with questions. But what this production lacks is clear direction to bring the message of the piece to life.

A show that primarily focuses on the development of character needs to pay attention to every detail, from inclinations in the voice to costume. All of the cast wore theatrical black skins with an item of clothing such as a skirt or a coat to represent a character. But in a production that is so driven by strong, well-rounded characters, it needs to show us a realistic figure, not a representation of a figure. This costume only works for the Fool who does play multiple characters throughout the show. We could not identify with the three daughters while they were so obviously representing themselves as performers and not real people.

Another issue is in the set. Three large strips of bright pink material are used to represent staircases, bridal veils and a whole manner of items and locations. However, combined with the glaringly pink items of clothing, we begin to wonder if this is an ironic symbol of the girls' childhood. Maybe this is the case, but it is in no way made clear by the characters casting off the illusion of a happy childhood at the end.

Lear's Daughters tries to make a powerful impact through its set, costume, and various emotional outbursts of shouting and screaming. Unfortunately, the show does not have the chilling shock-factor that is needed to leave a lasting impression.

Reviews by Alex Hargreaves

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The Blurb

Examining the possible childhood and adolescence of three of Shakespeare’s most famous female characters: three daughters who are subjected to the crazed autocracy of their volatile father and king. This fascinating short play acts as a prequel to King Lear, exploring the possible reasons for how and why Goneril and Regan became dysfunctional, selfish and malicious in the elder two’s case and what made Cordelia so psychologically damaged and vulnerable. This Shakespeare prequel offers some serious but also some satirical ideas about how their personalities became so warped.

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