Monday, November 12, 2007

Performance Notes: King Lear

Royal Shakespeare Company, The Courtyard Theater
March 27, 2007
Directed: Trevor Nunn
Featuring: Ian McKellen, Jonathan Hyde, Frances Barber, Guy William, Ben Meyjes

* Cordelia’s asides cut from the beginning, no clear reasoning as to why she refuses Lear’s demand

* Began with formal procession before declaration, then started with Gloucester/Kent

* Regan’s poisoning on-stage, tied into her fondness for drink which we had seen throughout

* Regan jumping up and down with glee during blinding

* Kept the mock trial scene from the folio, interesting break between past, almost understandable cruelties and horrific, unimaginable ones

* Fool actually hung on-stage, but why did he come back? Gave prophecy as a last speech

* Fool sang a lot of his lines, not just the songs

* Set grand, Russian feeling. Deteriorated throughout, soldiers pulling it down to start at the first conflict, roof falling in during the storm, visual representation of havoc caused by central characters

* Cordelia in white/purple (innocence/nobility), Goneril in black/red, Regan in green. Big, convertible dresses

* Kent’s punishment (the stocks) dealt in the middle of a party, highlights Regan/Cornwall’s cruelty

* Kept the lines about the servants helping Gloucester with egg whites, helps the idea that Regan/Goneril/Edmund are exceptions, not the rule (people in the play’s world still capable of compassion)

* Goneril walked with a cane, but didn’t really seem to need it. More grey than Regan or Cordelia in terms of good v. evil, characterization mirrored Lear’s in ways I couldn’t quite put my finger on

* Set dressing very simple, things moved on and off, very fluid. Tables at the beginning in the ceremony, hovel a type of trap door from the stage, furniture for mock trial scene, military pieces for end

* Fake suicide done so slowly as to not inspire laughter

* Lear’s madness a type of distraction than full blown out insanity

* Goneril grabbed Edmund’s knife from his boot to stab herself

* Fool’s observations not cruel, and more tolerated by Lear than Ian Holm version, kept Folio lines during the egg scene

* Lear actually carried Cordelia out, kept the “look” lines about her breath, “break heart” given to Kent

* Kent’s exit odd…took a pistol…meant to think he offs himself? That was my thouht

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