This was a Joseph Papp "Shakespeare in the Park" production of Lear. I was living in NYC at the time and saw one of the original performances. Certainly the audience loved it, but I thought that it was only mediocre. I think that the audience's enthusiastic response contributed greatly to its success on video. Watching a production of a Shakespearean play without an audience omits an essential presence. Paul Sorvino's Gloucester was such a disaster that it distracted from the entire performance. He delivered his lines like a student in a high school audition. It was like going to a Carnegie Hall concert and having a principle instrument play out of tune throughout. Gloucester is such a meaty, sympathetic character, and it was painful to watch it be slaughtered. Sorvino should stick to playing mob bosses which he does well, but he is way out his depth with Shakespeare. Ian McKellen's Lear remains the benchmark of excellence for me for all other productions.
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