King Lear Project Part 3: The Lear Universe

I liked very much: Ramesh, Raja, Gerald, Paul, Janice, Kheng, Kaylene, even Ben Slater in their Shakespeare cameos & fake discussions.

I also liked very much: their short enactment of the Nahum Tate ‘happy ending’ (unless you’re in the vicinity of the Shakespeare Centre in NYC you prob haven’t seen this in a while. And for those of you turning up your noses at the idea of a happy ending here, hey–Johnson liked it)

I liked the re staging of the final scene and curtain call and audience Q & A… the first time at least. Maybe even the second. By the third time it was irritating & by the fourth just tedious.

But while I liked the idea behind the staged ‘live’ Q & A it was painful in execution. I did enjoy audience members calling out genuine questions getting fobbed off till someone asked when the next staged question would be asked (getting a big laugh). And into this bustle of chatter the next planted voice piped up “Let me break the silence by asking–” which got an even bigger laugh.

Laboriously, a couple of planted audience members read out their own versions of Shakespeare & asked why they were ‘different’ (you bring your own texts to the theatre but never bothered to read the intro?)

Which was the opportunity for the Director to deliver the information that yes, there’s a difference between the quarto & first folio versions (duh) in the manner of the Pope discussing the gospels or a Vulcan describing the Prophet Sid.

Oh yes. They were good enough to read us what sounded like a Wikipedia aside on the ‘original’ King Leir.

What’s so tragic is this project sounded like such a great idea–with that to start with & such a great cast–what happened?

It could have been tightened into a great 70 minutes, maybe even 90 minutes. It might work as a mockumentry on film. But at 2 hours++ (Q & A stretched to 11pm) of what felt like meandering through an indulgent director’s game of ‘this might be interesting’ & ‘New to me. I’ll include it. I don’t know why but this is supposed to be experimental’ it was just too much.

Why were such tiny nuggets of superficial information dribbled out in such pompous academic jargon? To underline how much they aren’t telling? Because we’re incapable of understanding?
It also felt mega-condescending but that could be me reacting to the language.

Because most, most, most painful of all was the supposedly spontaneous language–last night made me appreciate Paul Rae’s previous 2 evenings of comments from the audience so much, because he sounded natural. Okay, it was still academic jargon but coming out of him it sounded fine because he really talks like that & the cadences work.

But last night–ouch ouch ouch–most of the audience presented their ostentatiously worded questions like awkward classroom work.

And as the fake curtain call & request for audience questions was repeated once, twice, three times it went from innovative to draggy to irritating to bloody tedious.

Talked to Verena before last night’s show.
(parts are interchangeable)

“Why did you come back tonight?”
“I’m hoping it will tie in the last two nights and make sense so I am prepared to love it. Besides, I paid for my ticket. You?”
“Same here. I paid for my ticket. Maybe I should have gone to see Rhinoceros.”

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2 Responses

  1. I know… but tickets are f****** expensive!!!

  2. The last bit about showing up because you’re paid up just made me laugh. 🙂

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