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January 4, 2008

I was saddened to receive a press release from San Francisco's Pangs Theatre Company yesterday. At the eleventh hour, the company has had to cancel its production of King Lear at The Phoenix Theatre, "due to a last-minute emergency situation concerning the actor portraying King Lear."

Lear is kind of a liability when you think about it. I don't know exactly what happened to the actor in Pangs' production, but it's not necessarily unusual for the ageing performer so frequently cast in the title role of Shakespeare's tragedy to take a turn for the worse during rehearsals.

The situation makes me think of the last season of the brilliant Canadian TV series Slings & Arrows, in which the artistic director of The New Burbage Theatre Festival, Geoffrey Tennant, is in a constant struggle to keep his geriatric leading man alive.

Who knows, perhaps the actor who was supposed to play the role in Pangs' production is young and spry and the emergency situation has nothing to do with his health. Whatever befell Pangs' Lear, I hope he's doing OK.


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