Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is one week away from opening King Lear in Southmoreland Park. Before claiming your seat on the lawn, meet some of the characters you’ll see fight for their right to protect the throne, this summer.
Meet Cordelia, Lear’s youngest daughter. (Emily Peterson)
You’d think being the King’s favorite daughter would get you far in life. Cordelia was all but guaranteed the biggest share of Lear’s land…until she refused to publicly vie with her sisters for her father’s love in front of the court. Her “nothing” against Regan and Goneril’s overblown outpourings lost her land, a father, and a suitor. But being banished didn’t quell Cordelia’s love for her father. As queen of France, she leads the charge against her sisters’ troops to save her father from peril. Unfortunately for this princess, she doesn’t get her happily ever after.
Meet the King of France. (Sam Cordes)
“Shallow” is one word you can’t call the King of France. When Lear takes away Cordelia’s dowry, France stands up for love and takes the princess by the hand. Too bad he isn’t around to lead France’s fight against the English. In the end, he’ll lose more than just the war.
Meet the Duke of Burgundy. (Taylor St. John)
You can’t call France shallow, but you sure can say that about Burgundy. He was all set to marry Cordelia until he learned Lear’s offer of land and wealth was no longer on the table. He left that castle quicker than the time it took the Duke of Cornwall to take out Gloucester’s eyes.
Meet the Earl of Kent. (Matt Rapport)
Sometimes being the voice of reason gets you in trouble. When Lear disowned his favorite daughter Cordelia, and put his life in the hands of his other daughters, Regan and Goneril, Kent stepped in and tried to save Lear from his mistake. As a reward, Lear did to him what he did to Cordelia and banished Kent from his sight. But like a loyal dog, Kent disguised himself and remained close behind his master. For most of the play, he goes by the name of Caius, but underneath the grime is Lear’s most loyal comrade who sticks by him through heath and death.
Meet the Duke of Albany. (Collin Vorbeck)
Being milk-livered isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does get you a reputation. The Duke of Albany stands by his wife Goneril’s side as she lies, cheats, and sleeps her way to the throne. But even Albany gets tired of that treatment, and finally shifts his loyalty toward King Lear. When he hears rumors of treason and learns of the plot to take Lear’s life, Albany does all he can to arrest the perpetrator and restore order to the kingdom. His heart is good…but his timing? Not so much.
Meet the Duke of Cornwall. (Brian Paulette)
The Duke of Cornwall, a.k.a., King of Torture. With his wife Regan, he conspires to fight against the King and take more than their fair share of the land divided by Lear. When the Earl of Gloucester tries to save the King from peril and threatens their scheme, Cornwall is bent on taking revenge into his own hands. Cornwall sees vengeance, but doesn’t have much time to relish in it before he sees his own death.
Meet Regan, Lear’s middle daughter. (Cinnamon Schultz)
If the Duke of Cornwall is the King of Torture, Regan earns her title as Queen. Regan knows how to sweet-talk but her nails are sharper than a serpent’s tooth. She and her husband scheme to take over the kingdom, but when Cornwall dies at the hands of a servant, Regan wastes no time in moving on. Regan tries to steal Goneril’s new boyfriend Edmund, but quickly learns to never accept a drink from a jealous sister – it’s the last thing she ever does.
Meet Goneril, Lear’s oldest daughter. (Kim Martin-Cotten)
Goneril can try to cover up her crimes, but actions always speak louder than words. Once she gains control of half the kingdom, Goneril does all she can to convince Lear he’s no longer King. Not only does Lear’s oldest daughter hate her father, she loathes her husband – so much so, that she has not one, but two affairs. Goneril plots the murder of her father, but only carries through the murder of her sister, who stole her boyfriend. In the end, jealousy wins out over prosperity…and her own life.
Meet Oswald, Goneril’s servant. (Ben Auxier)
How does Oswald pay back his boss? With betrayal. Oswald was once Goneril’s go-to man, but Edmund stole his thunder. On his way to send off a message from Goneril, he gets sidetracked by Regan and her request for Gloucester’s head. Oswald is now on a mission to deliver both a message and a deathblow. Well, they say not to shoot the messenger, but they say nothing about slaying him.
Meet the Earl of Gloucester. (Mark Robbins)
Poor Gloucester. First, his bastard son, Edmund, starts a rumor that his legitimate son Edgar is plotting to kill him. Then he’s accused of treason when he takes Lear in from the horrible storm and sends him off to Dover. His bad string of days gets worse when Cornwall binds him to a chair and plucks out his eyes. And when he finally reunites with his son Edgar on the cliffs of Dover, he can’t even see his face!
Meet Edmund, Gloucester’s bastard son. (Kyle Hatley)
Edmund’s been away for nine years, so he tries to cram almost a decade of evil into just a few days. He’s hungry for his father’s land, so he first convinces Gloucester that Edgar is leading a plot against his life. With Edgar out of the picture, Edmund works his way into the lives (and beds) of Lear’s daughters; he may be an illegitimate son, but he is also this story’s most eligible bachelor. After a successful battle, at his most powerful, Edmund orders the deaths of Lear and Cordelia, but is shortly after challenged to an ultimate showdown against his brother Edgar.
Edmund tries to redeem himself in his last moments, but it’s the only plan he couldn’t see through to the end.
Meet Edgar, Gloucester’s son. (Jacques Roy)
All Edgar wanted to do was have a good relationship with his bastard brother. Too bad his brother, Edmund, had other plans. Forced to sacrifice his identity and live out his life in hiding, Edgar spends most of his time caught between a demon spirit and a beggar. While on the heath, he sees his blind father head toward the cliffs of Dover to meet his untimely end. Being an honorable hero, Edgar saves his father, slays his brother, and pledges his allegiance to King Lear. This nice guy might finish last, but at least he’s still alive.