Review: Lear (Idée Fixe)

By Adam Collier

A company called Idée Fixe produced Lear at the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront Centre. The show was part of Hatch 2011.

“Oh, just that it was on the experience of aging,” said a woman in reply. She was standing next to me in line before Lear let in.

I had asked her about the show, because all I knew was that it was an adaptation of King Lear.

“And it has Clare Coulter in it,” she added. “Do you know her?” I shook my head. “Clare’s been in a lot of shows in Toronto.”

A performance, a reading of King Lear outloud, in a soft lulling tone (Ms. Coulter’s), without affectations to distinguish characters, was in-progress when the audience was let in. We were led right on stage, to a row of chairs lining the performance space.

At the risk of spoiling this show, which is a series of scenes inspired by, what struck me as, the struggles that come with inheriting a parent’s legacy, I’ll refrain from much description.

Lear is not driven by a story, though there is a narrative. Nor does it seem to have much to do with Shakespeare’s text, though it makes use of the text.

For the most part, the creators of Lear concentrate their considerable creative energy on very evocative demonstrations of the relationship between Lear (Ms. Coulter) and her three daughters, played by Lindsey Clark, Rose Plotek, and Kate Whitehead.

A few hours after the show, which runs about three-quarters of an hour, I flipped through – make that, scrolled down – an online version of King Lear to find one scene that really hit me hard in Lear. In involves Ms. Coulter, head wrapped in wet linen bandages, led by a performer that (I think) plays Cordelia (the humble, unassuming daughter) to the edge of a cliff.

In the text, this scene exists, but is between two other characters. And yet, in Lear it seems to work so perfectly as a moment of a daughter’s compassion for her mother’s wishes.

This sort of inspired adaptation by Lear’s creators (Ms. Coulter, Ms. Clark, Ms. Plotek, Ms. Whitehead, and Philip McKee), in addition to lighting by Kai Hue Chen that adds texture to the production without drawing attention to itself, makes it a show I’d strongly recommend.

Lear is the second of four shows in Hatch 2011. The next is titled Mrtvolka, created by Daniela Snepova and Penn Kemp; it goes up on April 9th at 7pm. After Mrtvolka, a show titled One Block, by UnSpun Theatre, goes up.


Lear plays at 8, on March 25th and 26th at the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront Centre. Tickets are $15 for regular admission, and $12 for students and seniors. (The night I went, the show had sold-out, so I’d advise contacting them immediately.)

– For more information, call 416-973-4000 or visit,