Feed ’em, clothe ’em, raise ’em.
Your reward: betrayal, madness, death.
Kids. Exasperating little ingrates, aren’t they?
Homer Simpson, Cliff Huxtable and Mike Brady would learn the true pains of papa hood if King Lear and his bratty brood moved next door. (Or in this instance, to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, opening tonight for a weeklong run by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre.)
Cue the “Brady” theme, Shakespearean alternate track: Here’s the story … of an aging monarch … who was bringing up three very loony girls …”
So ol’ Leary has these three grown rugrats, Goneril, Regan and the apple of his royal eye, Cordelia. Leary, pretty fried after a lifetime of this ruling gig and ready to trade up that crown for a condo in Miami, plans to divvy up Britain among his precious little princesses. But first he demands they get hitched to some nice English boys before he hands them the land and offers them a fixed interest rate to build a few adorable starter palaces (you know, with the shag-carpeted state rooms, four-horse garages and a backyard moat).
And, being an affection junkie, he also insists the lil’ darlings (no, not the Vegas ones) tell him they love him … how much? Thaaaaaat much!
Goneril and Regan shovel the bull, telling him, “You da bomb, Daddy!” They get property and hubbies. But Cordelia only tells Leary she loves him as much as any daughter should — leaving papa royally P.O.’d. To paraphrase the Soup Nazi: “No land for you!”
Geez, ya feed ’em, ya clothe ’em … well, ya know.
Now it gets kinda kooky, what with assorted dukes, an earl here, a king there, plotting and counterplotting everywhere. You know our boy, the Bard: Why make it simple when it can be complicated? But let’s simplify it anyway:
After snowing Big Daddy with false flattery and conning him out of half a kingdom apiece, those spoiled sibs, Goneril and Regan, figure his use as a walking ATM is over, distance themselves from the washed-up geezer and rise to their own power after Leary transferred all his clout to their husbands.
From there, it’s just, well … so many conspiracies, so little time. You can’t tell the no-goodniks without a scorecard. This is all turning Leary into one of those people in the bipolar TV ads (he should have asked the court doctor which medication was right for him), his royal eggs scrambled as he wanders around in a storm.
Elsewhere, the disowned Cordy is shacking up with the king of France as his queen, and sends out a sentry to find Pops, who realizes that the kid who didn’t blow sunshine up his robe was the one he should have trusted. Daddy and daughter charge into battle against the forces of those ungrateful floozies but are captured. Proving the old adage that you always hang the ones you love (or something like that), Regan orders daddy-kins and sister-dear strung up by one of her flunky captains.
But Goneril and Regan have their own sibling issues that would cause Dr. Phil to tear his remaining hair out. Regan is poisoned by Goneril, who then stabs herself. (What a drama queen, huh?) Meanwhile, turns out that Leary whacked the captain but not before the creep hanged Cordy, whose limp corpse Papa schleps out before he’s overcome with grief over his crummy parenting skills, gets a scolding from Dr. Phil and, probably owing more to his high cholesterol than anything else, takes the Big Dirt Nap.
With that, cue the announcer: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lear.”
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0256.PREVIEW
what: “King Lear”
when: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Thursday, Sept. 26-27; 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28
where: Black Box Theatre, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway
tickets: $15 (895-2787)