King Lear At The Almeida With Jonathan Pryce
Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:48 AM
Posted 31 August 2012 - 04:37 PM
Posted 01 September 2012 - 12:20 AM
I really, really enjoyed the production, brilliantly directed by Michael Attenborough. The setting is an underground bunker with sliding, slamming doors which is fascinating as it gives off quite an eerie atmosphere which is maintained throughout. I also appreciated the smaller details such as the weeds that can be seen growing through the cracks in the tiles in the 2nd Act. There's also very clever use of light & sound, particularly just prior to and during the storm scene.
Costumes were also very interesting and there's an article with Tom Scutt in the programme about his inspiration behind the designs.
The acting from the entire cast is very impressive (Trevor Fox is a memorable Fool, a Geordie magician! and there was sterling work from Kieran Bew, relishing in his villainy as Edmund) but Jonathan Pryce is extraordinary as King Lear. Having been a fan of his for many years after seeing him in Brazil I couldn't wait to see him on stage. It's such a heartbreaking performance, so moving...
I highly recommend this to anyone if you can get a ticket!
PS- The show ran at 3 hours with a 15 minute interval.
Posted 05 September 2012 - 08:11 AM
Lear, the Fool and Cordelia are all superb. Best Cordelia I've ever seen actually. Goneril, Regan and Edmund are a little bit Disney villain.
The more Lears I see, the more I wish I could make a compendium cast taking the best individuals from each one, so you'd take Cordelia from this, Charlotte Randle's Regan from the Young Vic, Gwilym Lee's Edgar from the Donmar, etc.
Don't mean to be damning, but I did feel a bit like the second half was staged in a posh garden centre. [Coram Boy, I don't think it is an underground bunker otherwise you wouldn't see the lightning nor would any greenery grow.] Didn't get the greenery unless it was some allusion to William Blake's Jerusalem, but still I'm not sure prosperity of any kind returns at the end of this sorry play; Edgar's summation isn't hopeful; the country is truly broken.
Still despite all this, it's good. Despite seeming younger than most Lears we see, Pryce plays him as senile and so comes over much more jocular than others. His scene with Gloucester usually has me welling up, but here it's very playful. He's every bit as good as you'd hope.
Posted 05 September 2012 - 11:52 AM
Forbes Masson (Young Vic) was the best Fool - nothing to beat of course.
Posted 08 September 2012 - 07:18 PM
Posted 09 September 2012 - 11:22 AM
I didn't think the set or the costumes did them any favours. The set cramped the entrances and exits, it was dull not in a good way and the costumes were similar to the RSC History series and looked to me a bit old hat. Or old padded corset armour for girls. When will they show us a kingdom that is rich, even gloriously lavish, a kingdom that the jealous gals actually want? Every Lear I've seen has all the sisters looking like they would rather not be Queens thank you. There are refs in the text to gorgeousness. But I never see it. The McKellen version came closest.
Nah, Cordelia wasn't that good. Different yes. She was a bit narky like a spoilt teenager. Gloucester v disappointing to me, seemed to be on auto. Edmund never made a dent for me. Edgar good except they gave him a daft entrance absolutely agin the text. Oh well. G&R nice together but nowhere near evil enough when it comes to it. The fool again, different. They made it like he was old too and and been with the King for yonks and so was the only one who could handle him and actually physically handle him when he struck out. Nice. A moving moment.
Lear himself: certainly made the most of the cursing. And some other weird stuff ( I'll let you art it out, I can't ) with the two older daughters. But I didn't see the grandeur or the man that inspired the love of Kent until right at the end . Ok, so maybe that's right. When he was mad, then JP really did get it. He was in fact sane. That was marvellously done. So the handy dandy of the play competed. The mad old man was the sane, royal authority. Loved that.
So not too disappointed considering I booked these tix so long ago in anticipation. Point of interest: there is a fab poster for the play in the foyer with a bleak landscape stretching back into the distance. I wish that had gone with that for a setting. I know the Almeida can do magical stagings. But this one was school art department and so the production could not soar. Contrast the white box of the Donmar. Frankly I wasn't that keen on that one either but it did trust the actors and let them go for it.
So advice to the one who asked. Yes go. There were plenty of empty seats last night. I'm wondering why.
Posted 09 September 2012 - 11:36 AM
It was me who asked but I'm not going! I remember the extraordinary buzz around Jonathan Pryce's Hamlet with Richard Eyre and this sounds well worth seeing but not extraordinary.
As tickets were sold so long ago, many ticketholders will have subsequently died. This will explain some empty seats.
Posted 09 September 2012 - 02:14 PM
I was there last night as well, and at the interval I said to my friend: "in all the King Lears I have seen, the kingdom looks really poor and they make such a fuss about it." I haven't seen that many Lears though, two or three. And I loved Jonathan Pryce, I thought he was incredibly moving. And his Lear was not mad, more like incredibly
angry and increasingly desperate that he exhausts himself out of his sanity.
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