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King Lear


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#21 Jenny_tyr

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 05:57 PM

QUOTE(thecrucible @ Apr 6 2007, 02:17 PM) View Post
I saw this last week and agree with a lot of Jenny's points. I did love it, though, in spite of that and would heartily recommend it to anyone who is going to see it or can get returns.

I think Jenny's comments about Edmund are pretty accurate. He seemed a bit inexperienced for the role and struggling to match the heavyweights round him like Frances Barber, William Gaunt and McKellen. For a role so integral to the piece, that was a problem for me. For me, his villainy was actually too obvious - I never once believed him when he was lying to his father or to Edgar and his switches into gloating Edmund with the audience were played almost like a panto villain at times. I don't know to what extent that's the direction Trevor Nunn edged him towards but to me it came across as the slightly unsubtle performance of someone relatively young.


I wish I could have found him in any way villainous, but when he was going about his supposed deception of Edgar and Gloucester, all I saw and heard was how cheerful he seemed and it just didn't work for me. The soliloquies were a complete letdown, especially the gestures which I assume are what reminded you of panto villains (I'd have to agree with that comparison) and where there was *nothing* expressed of the darkness of Edmund's character that the text calls for, particularly the soliloquy in scene 1.2 which actually made me cringe when I saw it here. I did have a ticket for seeing Lear on Saturday March 31st as well, but I found that I wasn't terribly interested in seeing it again, which surprised me since I often see really good productions more than once, occasionally on up to three or four consecutive nights if it's especially good. After enjoying a most excellent production of Coriolanus on Friday, I returned my Lear ticket for resale and opted instead for seeing that marvellous production of Coriolanus again on its closing night. I might have been more inclined to like it beforehand, as Coriolanus is one of my favourite plays, but that was a stunning production and Houston's performance utterly magnificent. Hard to believe that that one isn't transferring to London, but then I'm often mystified by exactly how they arrive at the decision on which ones will transfer and which ones won't.
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#22 Jan Brock

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 07:58 AM

QUOTE(Jenny_tyr @ Apr 6 2007, 06:57 PM) View Post
Hard to believe that that one isn't transferring to London, but then I'm often mystified by exactly how they arrive at the decision on which ones will transfer and which ones won't.


RSC don't decide what main house productions transfer to London, it is the decision of the commercial producers who provide the theatres for them. An odd situation.

#23 Jenny_tyr

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 12:21 PM

QUOTE(Jan Brock @ Apr 7 2007, 09:58 AM) View Post
RSC don't decide what main house productions transfer to London, it is the decision of the commercial producers who provide the theatres for them. An odd situation.


Oh, is that how it works? I thought that the RSC had at least some say, but if it's decided entirely by the WE producers it's not so surpising that only the best known plays and/or the ones with the biggest star names transfer, and suddenly I understand why the recent fine Winter's Tale never transferred. This was not how things worked back when the RSC had its London home at the Barbican, was it? Shame that they no longer have that, and I hope that they won't keep playing at the Novello in the future, as it has the most uncomfortable seats that I've ever had the misfortune to sit in, and I'd be very, *very* reluctant to see anything that plays there.
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#24 Haz

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 03:06 PM

Saw Lear last night.. running time was at 3hrs 25 minutes.

Disappointed not to see Frances Barber. I think her understudy was good, but acted off the stage by Regan (sorry, programme isn't to hand and can't remember names). I didn't like Cordelia at all (and nor did I like her in Amazing Grace which I saw 10 days ago) and don't really understand what she was trying to do with the role.

Mckellan was, as you'd expect, awe-inspiring. I agree with whoever said that he seemed to improve the further he got into the play, and Lear's collapse.

Surprised no-one has mentioned (unless I missed it) the storm which was absolutely awesome. I don't think I've ever seen, or even heard of, real rain on stage before.

Loved Sylvester McCoy.. saw him in panto at Christmas, and was dreading him bringing that kind of slapstick humour to this, but thought he handled it beautifully and created a really touching performance. Found Gloucester hard to understand on occasion.. his diction seemed to slip from time to time. Liked Kent though, and both Edgar and Edmund.. I don't think Edmund needs to be sinister to show his malice, so think he conveyed it fine.

Really like the design of The Courtyard (and the main house, as it will be).. it all felt so intimate. But I hope they make the seats in the main house a bit less cramped than they are in there!!

Bloody good for a fiver really, anyway.
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no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should

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#25 Alexandra

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 06:52 PM

Regan is Monica Dolan, who was an oustandingly good Lady Macbeth in the Out of Joint African Macbeth. I haven't seen Lear yet, but she's one of the reasons I want to see it.

As for real rain...I hope not, as I'm seeing it in June.  laugh.gif

#26 Lynette

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:13 AM

There's an odd bit in the text at the beginning that tells us that Edmund is in fact younger than Edgar. Am I wrong? Check it out. Anyway, it might explain the casting of Ed and Ed. I liked them both. I don't think the whole production does depend on Ian McKellen, Jenny. What is remarkable about this production and so early in the run is that they are all pulling on the same rope. And the thing with the fool is a great touch, very chilling, very real. That Lear refers to it at the end so lucidly helps to show us that he is not mad; in fact this is the first time I have seen this line made sense of. Don't worry about spoilers; in Shakespeare you know they are all dead at the end.

#27 coated peanuts

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:01 PM

QUOTE(Lynette @ Apr 10 2007, 01:13 AM) View Post
I don't think the whole production does depend on Ian McKellen, Jenny. What is remarkable about this production and so early in the run is that they are all pulling on the same rope.

That was one thing that impressed me most about the production. I did originally go to see Ian McKellen do Lear, but I came away in awe of the ensemble. And today I managed to get a Lear return ticket, so I can go back and pay attention to all the details I missed. And I might still get to see Frances Barber as well. It'll be interesting to see whether that makes a change to the feel of the performance.

#28 Jan Brock

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 07:09 AM

QUOTE(Jenny_tyr @ Apr 5 2007, 07:14 PM) View Post
One thing that I didn't agree with at all was where Nunn has chosen to take Lear's line "and my poor fool is hanged" (scene 5.3), which he utters as Cordelia lies dead. Even if most editors agree that it refers to Cordelia everyone is of course entitled to interpret the line any way they like, but I feel that Nunn has chosen to take this one step too far. //Jenny


I read somewhere (and unfortunately I can't remember where) that in Shakespeare's day the Fool and Cordelia would have been played by the same actor, which seems at first sight like a ludicrous notion but it may be is true as they never appear together on stage at the same time (Do they ?). Some other directors have emphasised the connection between the Fool and Cordelia - Adrian Noble for example started his version with them yolked together (Michael Gambon as Lear).

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 04:15 PM

"Adrian Noble for example started his version with them yolked together"

Were they egged on by Lear?

#30 Duncan

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 08:03 PM

QUOTE(Jan Brock @ May 1 2007, 08:09 AM) View Post
I read somewhere (and unfortunately I can't remember where) that in Shakespeare's day the Fool and Cordelia would have been played by the same actor, which seems at first sight like a ludicrous notion but it may be is true as they never appear together on stage at the same time (Do they ?). Some other directors have emphasised the connection between the Fool and Cordelia - Adrian Noble for example started his version with them yolked together (Michael Gambon as Lear).


According to the footnote on this point in the Arden Third Series edition of King Lear by R A Foakes:

"Many have speculated that the parts of Cordelia and the Fool were doubled, since they never appear on stage together, but there is strong evidence that Robert Armin, a mature adult actor, played the Fool, while Cordelia would have been played by a boy."

Below are my comments on a point that would be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't yet seen the production.

Spoiler





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