Monday, August 06, 2007

Gandalf as the Mad King

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of watching the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance of "The Tragedy of King Lear", played by no one else but by the great "Gandalf", "Sir Teabing", and "Magneto", Sir Ian McKellen.

Sir Ian McKellen as King Lear

For theatre and Shakespeare lovers, King Lear is a role that one would describe as the "Mount Everest" for any Shakespearean actor. They basically say that "if you're old enough to play King Lear, then you're too old to play King Lear". It is a role known to be emotionally and physically challenging. Sir Ian delivered, and more.

Sir Ian McKellen with Sylvester McCoy as The Fool

He took his kit off... naked as the day the Maker made him and might I add, not bad for an old gay man!

But I digress.

He is truly the greatest stage performer of his time. His stage presence, his command and ease of Shakespearean English, and his ownership of the part of Lear just proves his magnificent talent.

A fallen King Lear with The Earl of Gloucester, played by William Gaunt

Jonathan Hyde (you'll probably remember him as Richie Rich's butler and Robin Williams' greatest fear in Jumanji) was a fantastic Earl of Kent. Sylvester McCoy who played King Lear's Fool was a joy to watch as well. Frances Barber who played the evil eldest daughter Goneril was so effective is her role that I literally wanted to strangle her.

It was truly a night to remember. Seeing Sir Ian perform in all his excellent theatrical glory is something that I will truly take with me till death. He made me cry. He made me sympathise with an old, proud, foolish man who not only lost his kingdom but also lost his whole family, especially his dearest daughter Cordelia.

Howl, Howl, Howl...

Found this sample in YouTube. This is a scene between King Lear and The Fool. Enjoy!

O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven,
Keep me in temper: I would not be mad.
- King Lear, Act I Scene V


kat said...

He's gay? I didn't know that. :p

Definitely one of the best actors (stage and otherwise) of all time)

GJ said...

Interesting. Where did you see it?

Jennie said...

Hi gj... saw it at the Arts Centre State Theatre. It was a beautiful venue and was very appropriate for the play.