Friday, September 25, 2009

Lear on DVD

I am currently watching Ian McKellen in KING LEAR in the most recent Trevor Nunn production on dvd. Sir McKellen is stunning. But, when I'm finished with this, I'm going to look at the Olivier again. Yes, indeed.

I'm also looking at a BBC production of MEASURE FOR MEASURE because I'm auditioning next weekend for Jim Warren, at The American Shakespeare Center. This is a knotty play, to say the least. I'm not a fan of the BBC's Elizabethan-period production.

I'm playing with a few monologues: Leontes, Petruchio, Macbeth, Henry IV, Polonius, Oberon, Orsino, Dogberry, Duke Senior, Jacques, Claudius. Playing with spontaneity and tempo shifts. I'm especially playing with tempo shifts as a way to discover, and rediscover, actions.


JAC said...

"Sir Ian" if you please!! I haven't seen this one and shall have to investigate. Thanks for directing my attention to it. I'm a huge fan of the Olivier -- really the only time I've found the play to work as I imagine it ought to, and for me his greatest preserved Shakespearean performance.

I'm also a very big fan of the BBC Measure for Measure, if we're talking about the same one (I can't imagine they did it more than once): the one with Kate Nelligan and Tim Pigott-Smith. I love that play, it's in my top three, and I think they really got it.

Jeremy said...

McKellen's performance leaves Olivier's in the dust. On the other hand, you get strong performances from Diana Rigg, Jeremy Kemp and Robert Lindsey in Olivier's Grenada production.

David Millstone said...

Olivier's performance is GREAT!!!!

Jeremy said...

I'm not a fan of "the sick old man" interpeation of Lear, pushed around by his kids that was prevalent in the 80s. The text makes him a bully and he needs that stregnth of character to carry the rest of the play.
I've got 8 versions of Lear on tape and the Grenada isn't even top three.

-J said...

Sorry, my tone is carrying more strident then intended. Also, my spelling has completely regressed.

JAC said...

The text gives us several Lears in alternation: the forceful ruler, the bully, the whiner, the railer against nature, the sick old man, the valiant survivor of catastrophe, and more. They're hard to fit together in performance, in my (audience) experience.

In most performances, they don't fit together for me, the second half isn't supported by what we saw in the first half, and he comes across as a selfish jerk who pretty much deserves whatever he gets.

Gielgud reportedly managed to make it work in live performance, but of course I never saw that. They say Paul Scofield did too, but I don't see it in the Peter Brook film, which is very much a one-sided "concept" of the play. I didn't really buy that fine actor Michael Hordern in the BBC series either. By contrast I thought Olivier did what I'd been waiting to see. Maybe I'll feel the same about Sir Ian. I'll report back.