If you think that Shakespeare’s King Lear — with its plot lines of jealousy, deceit and violence — is unfit viewing for kids, then you haven’t seen Nearly Lear, an imaginative interpretation of the bard’s great tragedy appearing at the Painted Bride Art Center, March 29 and 30.
Presented by PA Performing Arts for Young Audiences (PAPAYA), a local organization dedicated to high-caliber artistic performances, this one-of-kind show features only one performer, Susanna Hamnett.
A British actor and clown, Hamnett takes considerable liberties with the Lear story. Nearly Lear is a lighthearted rendering, designed to make a classic tale where a daughter dies and the title character descends into madness palatable to pint-sized minds.
Using a spare set, unconventional props, physical theater, music and film, Hamnett assumes the stage with verve and virtuosity. She maintains the play’s general storyline, but slims things down considerably (spoiler alert: certain characters are missing and new ones are introduced).
Using just snippets from the actual text, humorous narration and some comical music choices, she whips up an emotional roller coaster that’s also a playful ride.
Tickets, starting at $15, are available online.