Clowning around. New York actor Grant Neale is well known for his Shakespearean "fool" roles. When he and his brother Randy wanted to devise a two-man play with an Elizabethan twist, King Lear's clown seemed the perfect starting point. "We experienced our mother fading away with dementia," says Grant's brother Randy (Yankee Tavern, The Seafarer). "We asked, what if Lear hadn't gone mad but was just aging?" Their production follows Lear's deterioration through the eyes of his jester.
Warning: This play's addictive. Grant and Randy are two exceptional pros who spent 18 months developing The Fool's Lear. They have an infectious love and understanding of the source material, translating it to a contemporary stage style that doesn't require a foreknowledge of Shakespeare — think Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with more grey hair. An April run in Charleston had audience members returning for two or three performances to enjoy the actors' chemistry.
Pimp my throne. Several of King Lear's most charismatic characters are represented on stage, including Goneril, Regan, the Earl of Kent, and Mad Tom. "Grant's a physically strong comic who's very energized in his role of the Fool," says Randy. "And I'm very old, so I can get away with playing Lear." There's also a transformative set with a throne on wheels and a box of delights underneath, musical instruments, puppets, and unexpected props.