Last Friday night saw your faithful correspondent swing by Kings College for a screening of King Lear, directed by Michael Grandage and starring, amongst others, Derek Jacobi as King Lear. The original screening , which I went to with The Actress*, was live on the 3rd Feb, but was beset by difficulties (one of which I correctly identified and offered a solution for, but was shoo’d away by the Lady Who Knows Everything). However, my helpfulness aside, it was pretty much a disaster so the good people at King’s College helpfully decided re-screen the recording, sans cock-ups. This time though I was going to see it on my own and I found it an interesting experience. Aside from getting an expert opinion on the acting last time, I felt more comfortable watching a play by myself. I tend to watch a lot of films by myself, so I’m probably used to it.
I love the theatre, almost as much as I love a good book. It is a cliché to say someone was immersed in a good book, but it a truism for me. Ever since I was young, I found an exhilarating escapism in the books that I read, almost cocooned by them as I delve into what ever world has been conjured up by the author. When I’m reading I can tune out the entire world. It feels the same when I’m watching a play too I think. I have been lucky that the last 3 plays I have seen have been exceptional though (A Man of Mode, War Horse and King Lear). Perhaps the quality of the play correlates to my sense of immersion in the drama. Whatever the cause though, I am not a passive spectator of plays (of course I don’t heckle or anything) and when I come across a genuinely exceptional play (King Lear) with outstanding performances then I can be affected by it greatly. And affected I was, for it was a brilliant production. A harsh white set, allowing the actors their stage to perform gave a stark backdrop to the events onstage. Jacobi was amazing, giving his Lear fury and impotence at the same time (perhaps fury at impotence?). Ron Cook (Fool), Michael Hadley (Kent) and Justine Mitchell (Regan) were all sensational. A special mention to Gina McKee, who I seem to fall in love with every time I see her, who was coldness personified, and surely a turn as Lady Macbeth beckons.
No play is perfect of course and a couple of performances I felt (in my humblest of opinions) weren’t really played in the right manner – Gideon Turner’s Cornwall swaggered like a shiv-struck gangsta – not quite of the time but you can see the motivation I guess.
Still, a fantastic performance and not just from those I mentioned. I am unashamed to say that the final scenes left me deeply moved, and after all, isn’t that the point? It was odd though, being by myself and viewing it through a screen – but then again that’s a perfect allegory for my life, so maybe not that odd.
Till next time,
*See page “The Cast”