at the theatre: king lear

While I might have initially scoffed at the obscene ticket prices for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s recent six-week residency at the Park Avenue Armory, I nevertheless gave in and did the unthinkable: I paid. Full price, no less. With a mandatory 20% donation to the RSC on top of the advertised ticket price, the total came to a quasi-operatic $300 – plus service charges, natch – for a pair of second-best seats in the house. (Prime seating could be had for the offensive price of $250 a seat.) And yet, perhaps the blogger doth protest too much. This is, after all, an historic event: the opportunity to witness the most famous Shakespearean company on the planet perform a half-dozen of the master’s plays in repertory inside a full-scale replica of its Stratford-upon-Avon home. And despite not caring for Greg Hicks’ interpretation of the title role there is no denying that in the three-plus hours of King Lear I got my money’s worth of family betrayal, infidelity, fratricide, banishment, madness, murder, and a particularly visceral removal of one character’s set of eyes. (Plus, no matter how well I think I know the play, the image of Lear carrying the corpse of his innocent daughter, Cordelia, is as emotionally shocking as it is cruel.) It’s enough to make me wish I had purchased my tickets earlier in the run, so I could see these actors in The Winter’s Tale, too, or Julius Caesar – not that I could afford it, mind you. All of which makes me wonder: at these prices, who’s filling the stalls at the Armory? Or perhaps the more significant question is, who isn’t?

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