A tragedy that could have had a happy ending, but didn't, engages emotions powerfully in “King Lear,” by Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park.
Hal Kohlman as the title character was physically and vocally commanding at the outset, which made his disintegration during the rest of the play all the more startling.
When exiling his loyal daughter Cordelia, the richly costumed king seemed proud of setting the wheels of his own undoing in motion.
From this initial high point, Kohlman did a fine job of showing us the stages of his slow-motion breakdown, beginning with suffering old age and small slights, but soon escalating to anger, outrage and near total madness.
David Fletcher Hall was low-key but solid as the Earl of Kent, who, after speaking up for and being exiled along with Cordelia, stays, in disguise, to try to look after the king — a thankless task which he handled well.
Joining him in this effort, and giving the play a strong comic dimension, by talking a kind of nonsense to the king, was the court Fool, played with just the right broad, physically humorous flourish, by Shaun Kilburn.
Julia Devine “played it straight,” although she at times overdid the heartfelt responses of Cordelia, who disappears after the opening scene, only to return for a brief, emotional reunion with her father, the king.
Excellent costumes by Robert Pittenridge that looked half medieval and half modern, half cloak or gown and half black raincoat, helped compensate for the nearly bare set, whose very starkness fit the material.
The summer's final Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park offering is highly recommended, at least for hard-core Shakespeare fans.
— John Brandenburg