Monday, 23 May 2011

An Opportunity - blogging about Lear

As I mentioned in my first post, a few people had been encouraging me to start a blog for a while, and I'd done nothing about it. A few weeks back though, an opportunity arose that kicked the thought back into my mind.

I saw a 'tweet' from the Library Theatre asking for guest bloggers for a site specific production of Hard Times that they are to stage at Murray Mills in Manchester. They were asking anyone who was interested to submit a short piece of writing to them about a production that they had recently seen. It seemed like a good challenge, and a chance to see if I really could write about my experience so I decided to have a go. Also, I had missed out on getting tickets for this production as it sold out so quickly, and part of the blogging experience was to see a dress rehearsal, so I thought it was worth a try. A few weeks before I had been to see King Lear at The Lowry in Salford Quays and I decided to use that as my subject. It was a bit of a rush job, but I was quite pleased with the result - this is what I submitted....
" Heading to the Lowry to see the Donmar Warehouse production of King Lear I have the nervousness of going to a Shakespeare I have never seen or studied - will I understand it, will I know who is who, or spend three hours attempting to look intelligent whilst actually somewhat out of my depth?

On arrival there is an air of excitement, this production has been sold out for months, and the cast is led by the legendary Derek Jacobi. No chance of getting near the bar or cafe so I purchase a programme to flick through, and am astonished to discover that it contains the complete play text - what value! Some programmes seem to be £5 for a bunch of adverts. On entering the auditorium I am amazed to discover that my 'third row' seat, due to the layout, is actually in the front row of the stalls, how exciting!

The set itself is startlingly simple, wooden planks to three sides with patches of whitewash and plaster - and yet, during the course of the play, due to the power of the performances, clever lighting and sound, and minimal props, I am transported to palaces, blasted moors, clifftops and more. Every performance was distinct and engaging. Whilst the character Lear is central, I was surprised to discover that he doesn't actually command the most stage time, and despite the star billing of Jacobi's Lear, this was a true ensemble cast.

The pace of the play was breathtaking, swift entrances and exits making full use of the stage, and I was gripped from start to finish. I am not a big fan of American-style standing ovations that seem to be fashionable these days, but this cynical theatre goer was one of the first on her feet when the cast took their bows. A truly memorable performance."

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