Shakespeare and Company, a presence in Lenox since its foundation in 1978 by Tina Packer and Kristen Linklater, has undergone some seismic challenges in recent years, and there has at times been some concern about its future, but it continues to soldier on with its richly and solidly matured education programs and performances that seem to only to get better and better. Now, following a brilliant season (2016) and looking forward to what promises to be another equally exciting program this summer, all the upheavals seem basically of academic interest, and I’ll let you wait until someone publishes a history of this company, which wears its laurels so lightly that some, I believe, underestimate just how important it is, not only for the history of Shakespeare performance in this country, but anywhere.
This impressive production of King Lear presents something of a challenge to the reviewer. The usual procedure of praising the direction, the sets, the costumes, and the acting—all of which deserve high praise—somehow misses the point. Of course, I found the show gripping, and I gained some important insights into the play, but I think what is unique in this production is the process through which the artists created it and the effect this has on what the audience experiences on stage. Of course I wasn’t there during the rehearsals. I can only extrapolate from what I saw and heard, both in the theater and in a few brief conversations with some members of the cast…and blessings on Shakespeare & Company for making these informal chats possible.