When director Robert Falls decides to locate his rousingly profane King Lear in embattled ’90s Yugoslavia, you expect a number of things: the opening scenes of Slavic decadence (pills, potent potables, and pissoirs
); the especially dystopian heath; even the jig performed by Edgar, the fool, and the half-mad king. So how to surprise an audience that already knows it’s going to see a pair of eyeballs ripped from a skull before the fifth act? Easy: Drive a smoke-filled sedan onstage to deposit Regan and Cornwall chez Gloucester. Hey, it’s no elephant. But Lear
’s no Aida
; and these, after all, is straitened times.