Mining ‘King Lear,’ er, ‘King O’Leary,’ for Laughs

Posted: July 13th, 2011 | No Comments »

This story by Laura Clark was originally posted at LA Story.

You know you’re going to be in for a lively — and creative — treat when actors on stage start mixing Shakespeare with Kanye West.

That’s exactly what happened at L’Enfant Terrible’s performance of “King O’Leary” at the Bootleg Theater on Sunday. Part of the Fun Family Festival of Tragedy,

“King O’Leary” is one of four re-imagined plays based on Shakespearean tragedies, in this case, “King Lear.” This local theater troupe has turned the Bard on his head — which, I’m betting he would have loved — and offers a funny, family-friendly take on some of Will’s saddest tales.

And, you know what? It works!

Set in an Old West burg called Boomtown, which has thrived on gold mining, “King O’Leary” tells the story of an aging king (played by Robert Williams) who wants to divide his land among his three daughters. But first, he wants to hear just how much each one loves him.

His eldest daughters (Laura Castle, Brian Allman) — the equivalent of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters — are eager to shower him with praise so they can get their hands on the gold. The youngest, cleverly named Cordelia-Mae (Angela Berliner), is too tongue-tied and can only utter “peep.”

Because of that, she’s banished to the outskirts of town, where there is only grass and …. buffalo! Insert a fun character here (Josh Zeller, above left) who utters noises that make him sound like a cousin of Chewbacca. (He was a definite CC fave. We cracked up every time he, uh, spoke.)

Angela Berliner and CC after the show.

Written by Berliner, who also plays Cordelia-Mae, “King O’Leary” is clever, funny, interactive and offers up colorful characters who get lots of laughs from the audience — particularly a gentleman from Mexico (Eddie Bastino, played by Brian Kimmet), who’s willing to marry any of the sisters for a stake in the fortune.

What’s great for kids — and parents — is that all ends well in this hour-long show, unlike the original “King Lear.” And anyone who can work Kanye’s “Gold Digger” into a re-thought Shakespearean play about a mining community gets two thumbs up from me.

For more information about the festival, which is offering four plays in repertory through July 31, click here. L’Enfant Terrible also gives audiences an inside peek at what goes on behind the scenes.

To read the whole story click here or go to

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