A second family is given emphasis here, echoing and amplifying the betrayals to Lear. Interestingly, the Earl of Gloucester is played by a woman (Phyllis Kay), which adds a helpful maternal dimension while ignoring the cultural-impossibility spit take. Authenticity mavens may have seizures, but the change underscores the subject of female caring that Cordelia introduces. Gloucester is also fooled and mistreated by offspring, in this case by bastard son Edmund (Lee Trull), who forges a letter making it appear that legitimate son Edgar (Steven Michael Walters) has foul plans. Trull makes him exquisitely evil through matter-of-fact bemusement. Edmund sticks around undetected by pretending to be Mad Tom, babbling gnomically in the forest and eventually befriending the actually mad Lear.
Director Moriarty conducts the proceedings with finesse, modulating the interpersonal tensions to good effect. His restraint gives additional impact to a brief bit of staging spectacle that prepares the way for the storm scene, when the mad king wanders in howling.
Having studied at the Trinity Conservatory 20 years ago, Moriarty knows the ensemble well. This is a co-production with the Dallas Theater Center, which has had a longtime connection with Trinity and where he is the artistic director, so some of the unfamiliar names above hail from there.
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