Monday, September 10, 2007

'Nothing will come of nothing'

I was lucky enough to score, at the last minute, a ticket to the sold-out run this month of King Lear starring Sir Ian McKellen and the Royal Shakespeare Company at BAM's Harvey Theater. Before the show even started, I was taken by the performance space. I've seen many shows at the main opera-house stage, but this smaller, more intimate setting wonderfully evokes a Greco-Romain ruin (with working electricity and gourmet concessions). The faded grandeur of the place seemed so appropriate to the theme of the play that I had to look it up afterward and confirm that the auditorium looks like that no matter the material on stage. But it was a great introduction to the space. I never read or saw Lear before last week, and while I can't say it's become my new favorite from the complete works, it's certainly stuck with me -- both the work and the RSC's execution of it. It's haunting and dark and the moments of goodness it does possess are fleeting. It's a reminder of how easy it is to let a grudge become devestating and a reminder that, as pat as it may be, actions speak louder than words. This is definitely one of those plays that I can imagine will disclose more of itself upon further viewings. And while I was disappointed to miss the two Shakespeare in the Park plays this summer, it was great to be introduced to a new one, especially by such a master as McKellen who takes on the old-king-gone-mad role with such stamina and brilliance.

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