Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lear in Cornwall

To steal a turn of phrase from Stephen Fry*: a short word about the Donmar Warehouse production of King Lear -wow; a longer word about the Donmar Warehouse production of King Lear - magnificent.
Far worthier reviewers than me have given plentiful wordage in critiques of this production and so I feel no urge to add my amateur attempts at true dramatic criticism to the huge body of work already in existence.

Suffice to say that not a single member of our party found a negative word to say after the performance.

The set is as simple as it comes - a stockade of paint splattered planking supplemented on a couple of occasions by a simple stool and a throne-like chair. Proof, if proof were ever needed, that great works of art need no embellishments.
The lighting and sound were superlative; evocative and haunting. The blasted heath in the storm was marvellously portrayed using flashing light behind and above the planking.

Above all, of course, was Derek Jacobi in the central role. This is the second time I've been lucky enough to see the man perform (the first was around twenty years ago in the title role of Beckett alongside Robert Lindsay). To climb what is both affectionately and sneeringly known as "Mount Lear" is a mammoth task for an actor; Jacobi managed to make it look easy, natural - a flow of consciousness rather than "acting". Simply wonderful.

Of course, a play is not built around one performance (although Lear, arguably, comes close) and the fifteen other other players all put in near flawless performances. It's hard to single out any one of them - each job was done with conviction and through that alternate reality that an actor attains when right "in the zone". The chemistry between the characters was as real as anything I've seen in the theatre.
What a night out, what an experience.

Thanks to all of the group of seven (excluding yours truly) who made up our party for coming along and making it a special evening. To Mrs The Millbrooker (official driver number one), Dozybean (early birthday present receiver of one ticket to King Lear), to Gay (number one next door neighbour and all-round good egg)...
...and to Pete and Nicky (who snapped up a pair of spare tickets at the last minute after a couple of people dropped out), to Slocombe ( who braved his first ever Shakespeare performance and thoroughly enjoyed it) and to La Sumpetta (official driver number two, recruited last minute to make sure we could all get there).
And finally a quick word in praise of the Try Dowr Wetherspoon's* pub in Truro where we enjoyed our pre-theatre dinner. I've rarely come across such helpful, pleasant staff in a chain pub - genuinely top notch; the food was pretty damned good, too. And that Wetherspoon's sort of way, very good VFM.

*The original phraseology from Mr Fry appeared in his book "Paperweight", a collection of articles written relatively early in his career, in this case as TV critic of The Listener magazine. It read "A short word about Noel Edmunds - 'no'. A long word about Noel Edmunds - 'unconscionable'." 

*For anyone interested, "Try Dowr" loosely translates from the Cornish as "Three Springs" or "Three Rivers"; possibly "Three Wells".

1 comment:

Frankenkeith said...

Good to hear you enjoyed "Lear" as much as expected.
Sorry about the desk, but notice your comment about great art needing no embellishment and hope that proves to be true. voyage was going well until trapped in Grimsby by fierce north east winds. My home county of Lincolnshire so could be worse.