If you tend to agree with the sentiment that we should “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say,” or that “Many a true word hath been spoken in jest,” then you’re probably a big fan of King Lear. And on December 6, you’ll have the chance to see Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy performed by its best practitioners – the cast from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London – right here in the Napa Valley.
The production, which is the final performance of the Globe’s twenty-month world tour and is its only Bay Area engagement, stars Joseph Marcell – an accomplished Shakespearean actor in the U.K. who is best known here from his role as “Geoffrey the Butler” on TV’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The eight actors are multiple-cast to play all the roles on an Elizabethan-style booth stage inspired by paintings and etchings of touring performances from Shakespeare’s day. The cast also includes Daniel Pirrie and Gwendolyn Chatfield, both of whom had minor roles in Downtown Abbey.
Perfect timing, since 2014 has been dubbed “The Year of Lear,” when some of the world’s most renowned actors have played the role of the tragic king, including John Lithgow, Frank Langella, and Simon Russell Beale. They join a distinguished group of legendary actors to portray Lear, including Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ian McKellan, and Anthony Hopkins.
If you’re going to see a production of Lear outside of London, this is the one to see. It’s being presented by the newly formed local theater group, NapaShakes (a name that took on new meaning for me after the August 24 earthquake). Its mission is to present year-round professional productions of Shakespeare and other classical plays with community outreach and educational programming, in an environmentally spectacular locale that also happens to know about dramatic food and wine. Shakespeare was clearly dreaming about the Napa Valley when he wrote, “Ripeness is all.”
Saturday, December 6, at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; ticket are $25 to $125 (VIP ticket includes premium seating, artist reception, and post-show cast party). For more information or to purchase tickets, go to the Lincoln Theater website or call 707-944-9900.