The Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall: 'Lear' rages but no one answers


CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Nature unleashes its fury in the pivotal storm scene in William Shakespeare's "King Lear." Throughout the scene there are references in the text to howling winds, tempest, rain, wind, thunder. At Hubbard Hall, where this monumental tragedy is given, at best, ragged treatment, the sequence is played agaunst a background of complete tranquility; voices raised against a tempest that simply doesn't exist; played in an encompassing swathe of light that is more evocative of a calm, sunny day at the beach. It is all emblematic of a production that, for all its vocal posturing, is devoid of meaning or substance.

This production has been co-directed by John Hadden, who also plays Lear, and Ava Roy, who also plays The Fool and Cordelia, the youngest and the only loving of Lear's three daughters. But for all their combined and individual efforts, there is no governing vision to this disjointed affair which, like Hadden's flailing performance, lunges from moment to moment in dutiful fashion but without connecting the dots not only in Shakespeare's dramaturgy but also among each other as members of an acting company.

Shakespeare provides a carefully calibrated arc for his characters, especially Lear, but Hadden wanders off on his own, leaving his actors to do the same, some with far more success than others. Among those are Roy as the Fool and as a Cordelia who shows more strength and fiber than one customarily sees in that character; a focused Gino Costabile as the scheming Edmund; James Udom as a compassionate and resourceful Edgar; Maya Plunkett as a feral Regan; and a particularly lucid John Terry as Kent.

But their efforts are undermined throughout by inconsistencies, widely disparate skills among the rest of the cast and creative staff, curious choices, and the absence of cohesive vision and execution.

Doug Seldin provides a lighting scheme that keeps the actors in and out of shadows through much of the first half and bright exposure in the second. But for all that light, there is little, if any, illumination.


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