King Lear and Fool in a Storm
I have noticed that Shakespeare’s King Lear (1606) has been filmed a number of times in recent years (1982-2008). These filmed adaptations also feature British actors as the eponymous king. Perhaps one reason is that playing King Lear is the ‘everest every Shakespearean actor must climb to be labelled great’, as the sleeve text to the 2008 DVD version of King Lear, directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Ian McKellen boldly states. Does the role of King Lear present a considerable and distinctly British challenge to aging actors, or is there a sense that King Lear is the last great British role that an old actor must perform before dying? In this context, King Lear permeates the seemingly universal idea that Shakespeare’s plays are the preserve of an intellectual elite registering a quality performers must aspire to. What is the point of having a great play if no one can breathe life into the characters as Shakespeare wrote them? It is no surprise that the five King Lear DVDs I intend to watch are all around three hours in length – watching the play requires as much stamina and perservance as performing it. In this sense, ‘King Lear gives one the impression of a high mountain that everyone admires, yet no one particularly wishes to climb’ (Kott 100). The implication is that the reader/spectator must regard great art as a masochistic and time-consuming pleasure.
However, King Lear does not have to be a painful viewing experience. Charles Marowitz’s response -Continue reading>