King Lear at Boscobel
Boscobel / Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
It’s outdoors and the sun sets during the performance; the whole scene is breathtaking no matter what the actors do. People arrive early and picnic. The evening was comfortable, balmy, relaxing.
But, on to the play, which is not those things! The eye gouging was cringe worthy; nothing elaborate (and since it's nearly in the round they can't do much w/o the audience seeing) but good use of squibs. The death scene had me sobbing. In between there were definitely lines that don’t bear up on the stage – “Reason not the need!” came across as petulant, childish. I have no idea why Goneril was trying to placate or do something to him while he was going off on his “blast her organs of increase” rant (it made her look oddly sympathetic, which was weird and uncomfortable). “Blow winds, crack your cheeks” seemed sort of silly (as did most of the “mad Lear” lines). OTOH,
So, in short - Harold Bloom is partly right (he's always partly right!) that you can't really act it on stage: the speeches are too complex and literary to hold up. But at the same time, it brings things out you haven't noticed, and affects you in a more visceral, immediate way. With tickets at only about $40 it is the best entertainment money you'll spend this year.