Sunday, 5 July 2015

Bard on the Beach: King Lear

Set of King Lear at Bard on the Beach

This production comes from Calgary - where it ran over last winter - and it is thus very polished. We had seen Lear fairly recently from the National Theatre Live, so I was quite surprised by how much emotional impact I felt last night. Perhaps that is just the magic of live theatre over an electronic screen. The cast of Bard is also much more familiar to me from other performances, and this production has perforce to double up a lot of the minor roles, which also did not seem to matter very much at all. The plot of Lear is, I imagine, familiar to most people. Lear is losing his faculties and fears madness. And in other performances the relationship with his fool seems closer and more affectionate. I found it odd that Lear kept referring to the Fool as "boy" when he was a man as old as himself - or should I have interpreted that as simply evidence of senility? He has two appalling daughters - harpies the pair of them - and these two even manage to look like sisters. They epitomise sibling rivalry. But then there is also the other plot of the perfidy of Gloucester's illegitimate son Edmund against his legitimate half brother Edgar - who also takes refuge in madness, or rather its superficial appearance. Easier to believe in this performance than Kent suddenly adopting a Scottish accent and a bonnet as an effective disguise. The horrors are indeed convincing, and the death of Cordelia moving. At the end of Lear most of the cast has been killed off. Tragedy indeed. And one that somehow survived unexpected fireworks being let off on the other side of the inlet at the denouement: I know it was the 4th of July but I thought that fireworks have been banned.

There were quite a few empty seats last night - which is a pity. Bard is well worth supporting. But at least you can be fairly sure of getting in even if you have not already booked. While you are on line now go and check availability.

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