A night out at the Globe

With Dee away down south, last evening I watched a recording of the RSC /MacKellan King Lear. Dee doesn't go for the black stuff and of course this is the blackest of the black.

Summing up how I felt about it: brilliant delivery of words immortal; the usual Shakespeare plot convolution; the original dysfunctional family coming to a joint and sticky end. If you tried that ending in a modern play or a novel you would be rightly accused of extreme facility but in the context of Elizabethan theatre just the ticket.

But the play shook me up. I've said it before and here it is again; with WS it's all about the arrangement of words and their fit with the characters. Perhaps Coleridge was right, nobody before or since, nor ever will do that again. But the stories? Most of them second hand, most of them contrived to the point of silly irrelevance.

I still believe the plays are best read rather than watched on stage. But best read in the Arden editions, with succinct footnoted interpretations. It's the rhythm of his words. Actors may deliver them well, even with the MacKellan brilliance, but for me they don't resonate in the listener's ears so well as in the reader's mind. Unless, of course, you happen to be a 16th/17th century Elizabethean on a night out at the Globe.

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