Stage Play Review : Haring Lear

I went to see this "Haring Lear" because I have been fascinated by the books of Shakespeare and I wanted to see this on stage. This is my first time to watch a stage play at Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).

This "Haring Lear" is, in many ways, a highly traditional Lear, no radical retelling here, just a strong focus on character and verse. "Haring Lear" here passionately delivered the emotional scenes, such as Lear on the heath, or the death of Cordelia, he looks silly and I can also feel the tragic or even pitiful moments at the end.

The Story:

"King Lear" which is considered by many as Shakespeare’s best work, is translated by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera. A story of a king whose rash judgment, firm faith in filial piety, violence and blindness caused so much destruction and finally his own undoing. PETA’s version of "King Lear" is directed by Nonon Padilla.

The Characters:

The decision to use an all-male cast is Padilla’s nod to Shakespeare’s text and the way roles were cast and played during the Bard’s time. (In 2001, director Anton Juan cast Repertory Philippines founder Zenaida Amador as King Lear in his staging of the play.)

The two characters in the play that were traditionally played by only one actor. We can see it in the scenes of Cordelia, the Fool is never there. When the Fool is onstage, Cordelia is gone. I think that’s crucial, and since Shakespeare designed it that way, I thought it was important to play around with that, to give it some focus or emphasis.

Nor Doming, Gary Lim and Abner Delima Jr. as sisters are all standouts, all giving very strong performances without descending into camp territory. Teroy Guzman on the other hand was able to clearly track Lear’s misfortunes, including a tour de force moment when he is drenched onstage with two showers, as he rants about his current situation.

Teroy Guzman plays the role of the aging monarch, Haring Lear. Lear’s daughters will be played by Gary Lim (Regan), Nor Domingo (Goneril) and Abner Delina (Cordelia).

Despite its traditional approach this is no minimalist or staid production. Staged with an almost operatic feel, a combination of classical costume with a bit of futuristic, stark setting and lighting combine to provide a sumptuous yet subtle setting. It is initially simple set also slowly transforms, mirroring the pieces revelations.

If, indeed one is already a fan of such classical productions, then this is a challenging and ultimately rewarding addition to theatrical interpretations of Lear’s struggles, told in a way which allows the audience to feel the actor’s challenges and thus better understand the character’s profound loneliness. This stage play is visually pleasing and aurally distinct piece which showcases both the brilliance of the actors on stage and also this great Shakespeare's masterful Lear.

The straightforward content, if not the full emotional and dimensions and poetry, comes across.  Seeing this play is a reasonable way to get to know better Shakespeare's masterful Lear. One would expect more, though, with all that star power. Exciting and suspenseful, PETA’s Haring Lear retains Shakespeare’s beautiful and devastating themes of love, madness, death and sacrifice.

"Haring Lear" is presented by PETA and British Council. It will run every Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m./3 p.m.) from Jan. 27 until March 4 at The PETA Theater Center. For ticket reservations, call 725-6244, 410-0821 to 22, 0917-5765400, or buy tickets online at,