KING LEAR played to sold-out houses and critical
raves in Boston in fall, 2005; it was extended twice and has been nominated
for three Elliot Norton awards. Terry Teachout, in The Wall Street Journal,
called it "The best KING LEAR I've ever seen on stage" In his
end-of-the-year wrap-up, Mr. Teachout cited Mr. Epstein for "Best
Acting in a Revival," saying that as Lear, "he gave the performance
of a lifetime -- complex, compelling, magnetic." Jeremy McCarter
of New York Magazine, called the performance "a triumph of classical
acting," and awarded it "Best Great Performance New York Missed"
and wondered, "How did the city's artistic directors let this happen
in Boston and not here?" Frank Rizzo in Variety wrote, "A new
theater company and an old acting pro combine talents to create an imaginative,
energetic and unorthodox production of KING LEAR. Alvin Epstein is a fascinating
and at times astonishing Lear: complex, multicolored and completely mesmerizing,
a performance that summons skills and artistry from a lifetime onstage.
You know you're in the presence of a master."
Directed by Patrick Swanson, the ASP's KING LEAR comes to Off-Broadway
with its original 14-member Boston ensemble. Colin Lane, who appeared
in Brian Friel's MOLLY SWEENEY at the Roundabout Theatre and in numerous
plays at the Irish Repertory Theatre, plays Gloucester in KING LEAR. Joining
Mr. Epstein and Mr. Lane in the cast are Bill Barclay, Allyn Burrows,
Ken Cheeseman, Dan Domingues, Benjamin Evett, Bill Gardiner, Jennie Israel,
Doug Lockwood, Paula Langton, Gabe Levey, Sarah Newhouse and Michael F.
Walker. Director Swanson is the artistic director of Revels, a national
organization which presents Christmas and other seasonal celebrations
annually in 10 cities across the country, including Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Alvin Epstein's Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include his debut in
MARCAL MARCEAU, the Fool in Orson Welles' KING LEAR, Lucky in the American
premiere of WAITING FOR GODOT, Clov in the American premiere of ENDGAME,
THE THREE PENNY OPERA (co-starring Sting), A KURT WEILL CABARET, and the
world premiere of Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin's WHEN THE WORLD WAS
GREEN (A CHEF'S FABLE). Mr. Epstein has also performed at resident theatres
throughout the U.S., in films and on television. Mr. Epstein is a former
artistic director of the Guthrie Theater and Associate Director of Yale
Repertory Theatre and a founding member of the American Repertory Theatre,
where he acted in or directed more than 60 plays. His most recent appearances
on New York stages include the Irish Rep's revival of ENDGAME, in which
he played Nagg, and Off-Broadway in TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.
Alvin Epstein as Lear. Credit: Carolle Photography.
The Actors' Shakespeare Project was founded in 2004 by Benjamin Evett,
a member of the resident company at the American Repertory Theatre for
more than 20 years. It offers stripped-down, intimate productions of Shakespeare
that focus on the actor and the text to give audiences a vivid sense of
the play's ageless relevance. The company includes some of New England's
best and most experienced actors. Its first season was widely acclaimed
by both audiences and critics, and in a very short time, it has become
an important presence in the Boston theater world with its popular productions
of RICHARD III, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, JULIUS CAESAR, KING LEAR, TWELFTH
NIGHT, and this spring 2006, ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
KING LEAR was originally produced by ASP and the Boston University School