Review: KING LEAR stars Joe Morton with storm of emotions at The Wallis

 King Lear has been William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy that covers themes of power, love, loyalty, treachery, and madness. It also showcases the most dysfunctional family in the pantheon of The Bard’s characters. 

River Gallo and Joe Morton in King Lear (photos by Jason Williams)

 In a dramatically modernized reimagined production at The Wallis in Beverly Hills, those themes are set in a chaotic world in the near future. Joe Morton stars as King Lear, and he is the perfect actor to tackle the complexity of the role and create a storm of emotions that swirl around the stage. Morton never lets up on the thunderous intensity of his performance. Shakespeare’s words come forth with shouts, howling, and painful whispers, giving each classic line its due.

Facing madness: Zachary Solomon as Edgar and Joe Morton as King Lear

 Morton is best know for his Emmy-winning role as the political schemer Rowan Pope on Scandal, plus memorable films and stage shows. His acclaimed sold-out performance as Dick Gregory in Turn Me Loose at The Wallis was directed by John Gould Rubin who is at the helm of this radical streamlined version of King Lear that offers a dystopian view of the story.

 Joining Morton in the cast are Mark Harelik (The Normal Heart on Broadway) as Gloucester; River Gallo (GLAAD Media Rising Star Award, PONYBOI) as Cordelia and Fool; Zachary Solomon (Better Things) as Edgar and King of France; Brie Eley (9-1-1,) as Regan; Emily Swallow (The Mandalorian) as Goneril; and Rafael Jordan (Law & Order SVU) as Edmund, who oddly becomes sort of a videographer with his cellphone throughout this very challenging show that has a minimal futuristic tables and chairs set design. Chris Barreca, Scenic Designer, and Steven Strawbridge, Lighting Designer.

 KING LEAR runs now through June 5, 2022 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills. For tickets contact The Wallis box office at [email protected] or call (310) 746-4000. For more information visit

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.