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King Lear performs to a sell-out crowd at the Lensic

Joseph Marcell protrays King Lear in the Globe Theatre of London production. (Courtesy of Performance Santa Fe)

Joseph Marcell protrays King Lear in the Globe Theatre of London production. (Courtesy of Performance Santa Fe)

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Globe Theatre of London’s production of “King Lear” drew a sold-out crowd to the Lensic Thursday night — although, perhaps unused to productions that last three hours and end past 10:30 p.m., some empty seats were apparent after the intermission.

The production threw some curves that both delighted, and sometimes confused, the audience. The confusing part came at the beginning, when, with the house lights still on, actors wandered down the aisles and on and off the stage, dressed in clothes that didn’t distinguish them much from the audience. Even though a woman warbling a song onstage, it wasn’t until the full cast assembled with her that the chatters in the audience realized that the production actually had begun.

A performer explained that Shakespeare’s plays were performed under the open sky, so they would leave the house lights on (albeit at a dimmer power) throughout the production to make it more true to the original feel.

And only eight actors performed the entire play, transforming from one character to another with a switch in costume or, in one case, leaping from one side of the stage to the other. Other times actors, back in their street clothes, provided musical interludes or accompaniment to the action onstage. In other words, they worked their butts off.

All together, the performance provided a robust range of emotional depth, along with something of a populist feel that is sometimes missing in the Bard’s more reverent productions.

Noting it was the group’s first appearance in Santa Fe, a performer noted that the members hoped for a return engagement. Amen to that.

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