Mother Lear is a new two-woman performance presented by theatre troupe We Players. Created by We Players founder Ava Roy and actress Courtney Walsh, this one-hour distillation of Shakespeare’s King Lear is designed to invite conversations about aging, family, and mortality. Audiences will rediscover the magic of the bard’s gift for expression, as two relatable modern characters find that Shakespeare’s words surpass their own.
The production, which will be performed outdoors in Montalvo’s scenic Oval Garden, tells the story of an aging mother and her caretaker daughter. “Lear” (Walsh), a formerly brilliant Shakespeare scholar, is descending into dementia. As her memories and her words desert her, she finds her one reliable method for communication is through the remembered text of King Lear. Discovering her mother surrounded by treasured possessions and an ominous bottle of pills, “Cordelia” (Roy), realizes she must try to reach her mother through the only language she recognizes. As she assumes a variety of personas from Shakespeare’s play—from the loyal friend Kent, to the manipulative daughter Goneril, to the irreverent Fool—Cordelia engages her mother in the difficult conversations they never managed to negotiate prior to her illness. Through the humor and poetry of Shakespeare’s writing the two navigate difficult topics—and finally achieve authentic communication.
After the performance, a special guest whose life’s work involves caring for the dying will share thoughts and host a general conversation about the performance and its themes among those who wish to participate.