Outdoors and free of charge, Murfreesboro Little Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear for its annual Backyard Bard production opening May 12 for three weekends.
Oh, how the mighty has fallen! King Lear tracks the title character’s decent into insanity as the result of his overbearing ego. With more conspiracy, bloodshed, lust, eye gouging and backstabbing (both literally and figuratively) than in any other Shakespearean work, the production makes Games of Thrones look like child’s play.
Director Dalton Reeves has placed the story of the aging King and his three daughters—each of whom stands to inherit a third of his kingdom—in the post-Civil War South. To avoid future conflicts amongst the girls, the king announces his decision to retire early and, in his vanity, commands each daughter to express her unconditional love to determine who gets what. While the two eldest flatter Lear with exaggerated pronouncements, daughter Cordelia can only state the she loves him the way any daughter should love her father. Enraged, Lear divides the kingdom between the oldest two, disowning his favorite daughter. Immediately, the situation turns from bad to rotten, with Goneril and Regan treating the king as an incompetent child and removing his powers and royal luxuries. Before long, Lear is on the run for his life as his ruling daughters order his murder.
Veteran actor Phil Mote tackles the demanding role of King Lear, with Patti Long-Lee, Ciara Richards and Jessica Theiss as his daughters. The cast also features Alec Lanter, Ashleigh Taylor, Christopher Wagner, Davey Odineal, Emily Lanter, Emma Hawkins, Greg Lowery, Hattie Fann, Jamie Leigh Stevens, Joseph Stanley, Roy Lee, Selah Lowery, Shane Lowery, Shondell McFall, Wayman Price and Wesley Rutledge.
In its seventh year offering Backyard Bard, MLT welcomes everyone to bring a picnic blanket or lounge chairs to enjoy the outdoor event. The production is free to attend, though MLT will gladly accept donations, with hot and cold concessions available for purchase.
Performance dates include May 12–14, 19–21 and 26–28. All performances are at 7 p.m.
Founded in 1962, MLT is an all-volunteer community theatre and Rutherford County’s oldest theatrical arts organization. MLT is located at 702 Ewing Blvd. To make reservations, visit mltarts.com or call (615) 893-9825.