Monday, 21 November 2016

King Lear ; who was the fool?

I was delighted to attend the rather exciting press night of The Royal Shakespeare Company's latest hit production at the Barbican Theatre...King Lear. Having never seen this play before, my excitement was extra intense. I won't lie, the duration terrified me slightly – 2 hours 55 minutes?! Madness. But y'know what? I didn't even feel I was watching for that long. I was into it for the entirety of the performance, and the time flew by.

My only query of this play was...who was the fool? No, really? 





The obvious answer would be, well, The Fool. The king's resident fool, in his woolly hat and with his sly ways, was played by Graham Turner. I had seen him before in Cymbeline, and so my brain fizzed with confusion when I saw him suddenly in his shocking white long johns playing up to the crowd. He was the classic Shakespearean entertainer, the perfect blend of idiot and secret genius – the obvious choice for this title, the ultimate fool. And yet...I contested his position.

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)


My next candidates for the role would be the dukes. The Duke of Albany (played by Clarence Smith) and the Duke of Cornwall (played by James Clyde) were exceptionally dense at times – however, maybe not quite as easily led as the Earl of Gloucester (played by David Troughton), who was viciously blinded (sorry for the spoiler) and then taken, allegedly, to a cliff he could leap off, by his son...what a silly billy he was. 

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)


Still, these noble men were not quite as foolish as, well, the king himself. Yep, Lear was a complete and utter buffoon, and he wins the title of Ultimate Fool, I give it to him with both hands and a roll of my eyes. My goodness, what a tit he was at times. He was so easily absorbed in others' lives and stories, his beliefs were so quickly changed...and the flower crown was just the finishing touch, the final nail. But then, the last scene of the play was his becoming. And his end. I actually found myself touched and feeling sorry for him as he addressed his comrades and us, the audience, for the final time. 

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)

Oh, quick little footnote here, you know who wasn't a fool, like not at all? Edgar. Or should I say Poor Tom?! Either way, my gosh, he was an absolute genius at times, a sparkling whizz of wit and excitement. It was a real treat to see Oliver Johnstone again, having seen him just the week before in Cymbeline and properly fallen for his Iachimo – the sleazy son of a something who scammed and tricked his way through the play. I can confirm that yes, I do indeed fancy him in both roles. 

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC)


Thank you again, my beloved RSC, for an absolute treat of a play. I can safely say a night with you guys is always most excellent – and even at times educational! See you again soon, I hope...


King Lear runs at the Barbican Theatre until 23rd December.
Just one more month to see this excellent production!

3 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise o.w
    Jay x

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  3. Ops that was ment for the other post ! Past encounters , you get the idea 😂

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