deLEARious

by Dale Reynolds

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday November 20, 2017

deLEARious

When one knows one's Shakespeare, then those having it off on his works and reputation had better know it as well, lest ye be found wanting.

And Ron West knows his "King Lear" at any rate. Reviving his 2009 comedy travesty "deLEARious," is always welcome when it's as foolish and clever as this is. He brings out the worst side as well as the ridiculous side of Lear: his three daughters, Regan (Rachel Addington), Goneril (Robyn Roth) and the unfortunate Cordelia (Gina Manziello). There's also his Fool (Chris Farah) and the other unfortunates such as the Duke of Kent (Ramón Garcia), the foppish King of France (Micah Watterson), and the scheming Duke of Albany (Rama Vallery), not to mention Shakespeare himself (Scott Mosenson).

It's incredibly silly and lowbrow, in addition to its correct allusions to the original play. It has cute songs (West and Phil Swann, with musical direction by Jan Roper), and overall direction by West.

And, just for the sake of honest reflection, a different director might have tightened the whole so that the individual bits would stand out, instead of too often being lost in the chaos in front of us. For instance, framing the action by having the Court of James I, played here as a camp-loving nelly (Chase Studinski), does set up the oft-inspired goofiness which follows. But allowing Shakespeare to be a part of the scholarly tribe who are writing the King James version of the Christian Bible, gets somewhat lost, albeit amusingly.

This take on "King Lear" is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is a boon for those of us who love low-level buffoonery, but less would have worked a bit better. Far too much noise while punning and dancing for those with gentle ears. Still... how much do we ever get from using tragedies as jumping-off points of humor? Not often enough, as it turns out.

But it's fun and quite often very funny. See it with your giggle mask firmly attached; there's a good audience.

"deLEARious" runs through December 16 at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Street, Los Angeles, 90039. For tickets and information, call 323-882-6912 or visitwww.openfist.org.