John Malloy: Crazy for "Lear"

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Want to see a crazy geriatric running naked through a terrible storm, howling like a scalded wolf?

Sorry to those who might be expecting a YouTube link or something, but this an act you'll have to catch live.

Okay, John Malloy, the 75-year-old actor currently interpreting Shakespeare's King Lear in a staged reading at Rhodes College, probably won't strip to the buff. But you've got to believe this grizzled stage and screen vet when he promises to leave everything on stage.

Malloy, whose appearances include a memorable turn as one of the clownish bums in Steinbeck's Cannery Row with Nick Nolte and Debra Winger, has been trying to launch a production of Lear since he was barely ancient enough to play the part. Meaty roles in Cymbeline, Hamlet, and Henry V, left Malloy hungry to take on Shakespeare's granddaddy of all tragedies.

In the mid 1990s he organized readings of Lear and other Shakespeare tragedies at the P&H Café and helped to organize productions of the Bard's work in conjunction with Sleeping Cat Studios. But everything he did, he did with an eye toward getting himself crowned.

Tonight and tomorrow -- April 16th and 17th -- Malloy will be joined by a cadre of gifted local performers, including a rare appearance by Michael Conway, the weirdly wonderful, physically gigantic veteran of Disney World stunt shows, mystery dinner theater, and Mike McCarthy films, whose 2002 turn as Macbeth earned favorable reviews. Bo List, executive producer for Germantown Community Theatre and contributor to The Memphis Flyer, directs this bare-bones Lear. List, whose directing credits are extensive, staged Theatre Memphis' beautifully conceived 2003 production of Hamlet.

For additional information, call the McCoy Theater 843-3839.

--by Chris Davis

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