Thursday, April 30, 2015

Geoff Hoyle: "Lear's Shadow" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

The problem with seeing Geoff Hoyle do any solo performance, and particularly his latest "Lear's Shadow," is that he raises the bar for everyone else. Hoyle is not only an artist and writer but he's a mime, a fiddler, a clown and a physical comedian of the highest order. Each of his characters is memorable and each engages us as if being portrayed by a unique actor: King Lear as a young King with puffed-out chest and then as a fading old man with sunken shoulders; his daughters Goneril and Regan, deceiving and foolish; Cordelia, proud and affectionate; and, most of all, the Fool himself, our narrator and moral compass.

The story begins after the events made immortal by Shakespeare have transpired. The Fool, now unemployed, is casting about for another position when someone asks him why he left his previous employer. "Because everybody's dead!" he answers, and proceeds to tell us what exactly happened to King Lear and his family, but from the perspective of a once-loyal employee whose loyalty has bought him little but slaps across the face. Twenty-seven, to be exact.

It helps to be familiar with a little of King Lear beforehand, but you can Google all you need to know in less than five minutes. Marry and prithee, don't miss this one. Co-written and directed by David Ford, "Lear's Shadow" is the best solo show we've seen in a long time.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards Geoff Hoyle's "Lear's Shadow" Four Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. Sure, the ending is a little long and for our taste we could do without some of the audience interaction, but these are tiny quibbles, mere quibblitos. The BANGLE is for a quick double-take he gives us towards the end, where with a passing of his hand back and forth across his face we see the Fool and Hoyle, there's Hoyle and there's the Fool and there's Hoyle again, in the blink of an eye. The man is bloody good.

"Lear's Shadow"
The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Wed, Thurs and Sat. through May 30.

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