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Shakespeare in Bird Park

By Julia Beauregard

Hometown Weekly Editor

In a local display of theatrical prowess, directed by Benjamin Mederios, The Gazebo Players of Medfield presented a rendition of Shakespeare's renowned play, "King Lear." Set in a Steampunk Victorian-era England, this production brought a dystopian edge to the typically whimsical Steampunk genre. The play, believed to have been penned between 1605 and 1606, delves into themes of power, greed, betrayal, madness, and the dire repercussions of ill-advised decisions. 

The plot revolves around the aging King Lear of Britain, who, driven by a desire for familial affirmation, divides his kingdom among his three daughters based on their vocalized love for him. While the two eldest, Goneril and Regan, artfully manipulate their father with false endearments to secure their portions, the youngest, Cordelia, refuses such insincerity, leading to her disinheritance. Lear's gradual realization of his error propels him into a harrowing descent into madness, abetted by a stormy landscape and faithful companions. Against the backdrop of Bird Park, akin to Shakespeare in the Park, local audiences experienced a captivating evening that both thrilled and resonated deeply.

Jacobite McFee's portrayal of King Lear skillfully depicted the character's unraveling sanity, epitomized by the haunting plea, "Cordelia, why don't you stay awhile?" Cammerron Baits as Edmund elicited hearty laughter through his adept delivery, seamlessly blending power and vivacity in his lines. Baits's chemistry with Ashley Harmon (Goneril) and Kelly McGowan (Regan) proved striking, especially as their characters oscillated between genuine emotion and the art of pretense. Krishan Oberoi's portrayal of Edgar was equally compelling, immersing the audience in his descent into madness, eliciting contemplation about the depths his character reached. Notably, the supporting cast, including Elise Blanchard (Cordelia and The Fool), Dani Dorrego (Burgundy, Cornwall, and Captain), Anna Sheehan (King of France, Oswald, and Gentleman), and Joe Rich (Albany, Servant, and Doctor), demonstrated remarkable versatility, seamlessly transitioning between roles and adding coherence to the narrative.

Mederios's decision to infuse the Steampunk aesthetic with a darker undertone provided a fresh perspective on "King Lear." While vibrant costumes and elaborate sets initially captured attention, a deeper and more sinister narrative emerged, leaving the audience contemplating the intricate layers of the story. The juxtaposition of Steampunk's typical exuberance with a dystopian ambiance offered a unique lens through which to examine the play's themes.

As the sun set on a perfect summer evening, The Gazebo Players of Medfield's production of "King Lear" captured hearts and minds with its dynamic performances and imaginative reinterpretation. By skillfully blending talent, innovation, and a touch of darkness, this rendition highlighted the timeless relevance of Shakespeare's work and left a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to witness it.

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