29 March 2004

Lincoln Center

Saw King Lear on Saturday during my one-day trip to NYC. It was a lot of driving in a short period of time, but it was a fun excursion nonetheless. The show was an interesting interpretation of the play, and my Uncle Paul (who played the King of France) told me that the first thing the director said when they started rehearsing was, "This is a very funny play."

It turns out that they did find quite a bit of humor, but at the expense of some of the gravitas with which the play is usually associated. Christopher Plummer was fabulous as Lear. It's always cool to see guys who became famous in film or television return to the stage and prove they can still hack it. Something tells me that those who do come back must feel so much more at home in a theatre than a movie set.

Speaking of sets, this production was originally done in a Shakespeare festival in Canada. They recreated that set, which is a replica of the traditional in-the-round (or at least 2/3) Elizabethan stage. The costumes were wonderfully ornate 17th century but the stage was mostly bare. In retrospect it seems like it might've been worthwhile to go a little further with sets and furniture given that they made the transition from Stratford, Canada to Broadway.

I was reminded, as usual, both how hard it is to play Shakespeare and how wonderful it is when done well. Goneril and Regan were fairly flat and uninteresting, and their relationship with Cordelia totally conjured images of Cinderella and the wicked stepsisters. There were times (e.g. when Edgar is raving) when the words were so thick that all meaning was obfuscated, but there were others (usually when Plummer was onstage) where the language really danced.

Beyond the show we had very little time in New York. The weather was lovely, though, so walking around Broadway was a nice way to kill an hour before the show. I was also reminded how intimidated I feel when I'm in New York. It feels very foreign compared to other American cities I've visited. Stupid New Yorkers.

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