Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lear in Staunton

Everyone in Lear was good. James Keegan has a voice that shakes you into goosebumps. It's exciting to see him on stage in any role, but he seems to have been born to play Lear. And he who called him Nuncle was still a genius despite having lines cut; John Harrell should never have a line cut. NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! John Harrel is the best fool I have seen in Lear. I have only seen Lear something like four times on the stage and a handful of times on DVD and VHS, but this guy was hilarious. In the end when he's not really around, and when Cordelia dies he's missed because Harrel does what the fool is presumably there to: keep things light and give perspective. When he isn't there anymore, the deaths in the end are given more weight and lose their sense. If the fool were on stage then, we would find a reason why Cordelia had to die, but without him there, it's just senseless violence that makes you want to cry, like when tanks are killing people in Georgia while our president looks like a fucking hypocrite. His bauble was a skull that looked around like a puppet wielded by a master.

Everyone was good in this Lear, but I just deleted a bunch of stuff about them because I want to talk about something else before you lose patience with this blog. Have you ever noticed that every Lear has people yelling and screaming through it? I asked Stephen Booth why everyone's always trying to out-yell each other, and he said, "well, they're angry." The thing is, I don't think most people yell when they're angry. Actors playing angry characters often yell; it's an easy way to portray rage and frustration. But people, when they're rrrreeeeally pissed off about something, are pretty quiet. They kind of spit their words. And Regan and Goneril are much too cunning to scream and yell. They are manipulating a large number of people in addition to their father, why risk looking hot and inconstant? If they are resolute and stern, wouldn't it work better? I think that Lear has to do a lot of yelling, but should anyone else be? Would anyone really yell at a king? Even a king only in title? Everyone always yells in "King Lear" and they will continue to do so, surely, but I don't think they should. Just Lear himself maybe.

Blackfriars has some fantastic acoustics going for them, so they can do things with volume and voice variations that can't be done in big outdoor theaters without mic.'s. Mic.'s add some artificiality in those theaters, so Blackfirars won't have to sacrifice anything if they decide to do something different from the norm. I think Lear needs it, and who else is intrepid enough but the ASC?

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