Thursday, September 20, 2018

King Lear at the Duke of York's Theatre

London. Thursday 20-September-2018.

Second of the Shakespearean double bill this week, King Lear as a birthday treat. Transferred from The Chichester Festival Theatre.

We went for a nice meal beforehand and then off to the Theatre Royal to see that well-known thesp Ian McKellen in what he has said will be his last Shakespearean stage role. It is nearly a decade since we saw him on stage last, in Waiting for Godot, and he was just as impressive now.

King Lear review – Ian McKellen’s dazzling swan song weighted with poignancy
4 out of 5 stars. Duke of York’s, London.
The 79-year-old star shines brightest in play’s darkest moments, in what may be his last big Shakespearean role on stage, writes Arifa Akbar in the Guardian:
"There is a sense of an actor putting the finest last touches to his majestic legacy: in McKellen’s incarnation as the arrogant ruler undone by age, infirmity and filial disobedience. [...] McKellen draws out Lear’s signs of dementia – the angry outbursts, the sudden memory blanks – and infuses his performance with such compassion that we feel for this “discarded father” long before his breakdown in the storm. [...] Whatever its inconsistencies and imperfections, this production still dazzles, McKellen shimmering brightest at its dark, tormented heart. " Full review...
King Lear review, Duke of York’s: a devastating lead performance from Ian McKellen
4 out of 5 stars. Duke of York’s, London.
writes Ben Lawrence in the Telegraph:
"McKellen is spellbinding from the very start: we first see him as a much-decorated monarch aware of his own consequence, before the machinations of his inner circle begin to work in tandem with his own unravelling. Then he is capricious, avoiding all eye contact and looking perpetually into the middle distance as if searching for something lost in the mists of time, grabbing at thoughts like dandelion seeds. [...] Still, this is a production that subtly but devastatingly shows the effects of dementia and of ageing, and that is down to McKellen who, throughout, has carefully shown its gradations as well as its non-linear effects." Full review...
Several times as we have staggered out of various late night venues I have jokingly said we should have the Rolls Royce ready and waiting to whisk us home. So the final birthday treat of the day was a limo waiting right outside the theatre to whisk us home without having to bother with public transport.

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