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Making Do With a Good Job

August 26, 1994|JAN HERMAN

Michael Strickland wonders if there isn't "something forgettable" about Edgar, the role he is playing to great effect in the Shakespeare Orange County production of "King Lear" (through Sept. 10).

Edgar is one of the play's key figures, of course. A target of his brother Edmund's evil machinations and a victim of his gullible father's bad judgment, Edgar ultimately saves Gloucester and kills Edmund--thus redeeming personal honor, family name and the idea of justice in an unjust world.

Still, everybody remembers Edmund better. "Edmund (played by Wayne Alexander) is one of those characters the audience loves to hate," said Strickland, a 26-year-old graduate student at the Yale School of Drama who grew up in Costa Mesa.

There was a time when Edgar got second billing to Lear himself. A quarto version of the play even named him in the title, Strickland pointed out. It went something like "The Tragedy of King Lear, With the Lamentable Fall of Edgar, Son to the Earl of Gloucester."

The quarto refers to an original manuscript version of the play, recorded four centuries ago in the stage manager's notes (known as "the foul papers") and in transcriptions by Shakespeare's contemporaneous audience.

But the subtitle allusion to Edgar "was dropped in the folio and never used again," Strickland added. The folio was the first authoritative publication of the play after Shakespeare's death.

Strickland doesn't always do good guys. He said he recently portrayed Iago, one of Shakespeare's most memorable villains, in a production of "Othello" at Yale.

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