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Topic: KING LEAR | Reviews, Reactions & POLL! Have you seen Damien in the Chichester production?

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KING LEAR - What did YOU think? [5 vote(s)]

5 stars - Incredible! Amazing! Absolutely loved it!
100.0%
4 stars - Great! Really enjoyed it!
0.0%
3 stars - Good! Liked it
0.0%
2 stars - OK, but probably wouldn't see it again
0.0%
1 star - Disappointing
0.0%
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RE: KING LEAR | Reviews, Reactions & POLL! Have you seen Damien in the Chichester production?
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DawnHart wrote:

Hi 

Damien did speak with an Irish accent (love it, my sat nav is now Irish lol) his costumes varied, he started, within the first minute of the play which took me by surprise, in a tuxedo, after that we saw him in casual trousers and a brown long sleeved polo top, sometimes with a jacket (reminded me a bit of Lord Hals) then nearer the end he wore army camouflage (very nice).

He did have a few soliloquies, the sound was really good, no over shouting just normal voice, the Minerva is a small area, the voices carried really well, Jonathan Bailey shouted very close to us a few times and made me jump...biggrin

As for the rain, omg there was 'a lot' of it, we didn't get wet as such, maybe the odd splash now and again, we did have to wait at the interval whilst they mopped the floor to stop us slipping everywhere. Once inside I did understand the posters saying you couldn't leave your seats during the production, or if you were late you wouldn't be allowed in, the actors used all the theatre space so had anyone had to pay a visit they could well have ended up in all the action lol.

 


 Thanks for the update Dawn! 

Oooh, how interesting that Damien's Edmund has his Irish accent! Sinéad Cusack and Dervla Kirwan too I wonder?

We have to see Damien is his army fatigues!

Yes, I've read that the smaller set and staging creates a more intimate atmosphere and the actors are able to deliver the lines in a less shouty way than at a larger venue. Ha ha, about Jonny Bailey!

Definitely sounds like a raincoat is required for front row audience! 

I am most upset today to read that one of Edmund's most crucial soliloquies is truncated in the production...as revealed by BBC Front Row who interviewed Ian McKellen. just posted about it here

 

 



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There is a review on the BBC website with a lovely short sentence about Damien. I will just quote that and post the link for the whole review.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41531398

 

But Damien Molony, who is superb alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the Channel 4 comedy Crashing, is such a brilliant Edmund that he can be forgiven.



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A great compliment to Damien isn't it Pearl. already posted here in the context of the BBC front Row show with Ian McKellen, but it's right that quote is posted in this topic too!



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For anyone interested, I've done a bit of a reviews round-up for damienmolony.org  (DaMo-centric of course!)

Included are some fave twitter reviews, really hoping to hear from more fans soon!

If you have seen King Lear, we'd love to hear from you, and don't forget to come and vote in the poll!

 

KING LEAR Reviews Roundup: “Triumphant”, “Insightful”, “Intensely moving” – and a “devilish” Damien Molony

 

© Manuel Harlan

 

The Chichester Minerva Theatre opened its doors for King Lear press night on Friday 29 September, and was met with critical acclaim.

The theatre’s contemporary re-telling of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, directed by Jonathan Munby, has received 4 or 5 star reviews across the board, with mainstream press describing the play as “triumphant”, “insightful”, “finely acted”(The Times), “Smart, lucid” (The Guardian), “clear-sighted, “visceral” (Evening Standard), “superb”, “intimate” (WhatsOnStage) and “intensely moving” (The Stage).

The intimate space of the Minerva and designer Paul Willis’s set with circular stage design was positively received, with reviewers appreciating the more compelling, nuanced, close-up performances it allowed. Particular mention was given to the ‘storm scene’ in the reviews, with rain pouring down on the actors, and the audience in the front row!

As leading man, Sir Ian McKellen received high praise for his “intelligent”, “profound” and “detailed” portrayal of the King, and the entire ensemble cast were commended for their performances.

 

Damien Molony as Edmund in King Lear. © Manuel Harlan


Damien also received praise for his portrayal of Edmund as a “wily, devious and resentful” (British Theatre Guide) “smooth-talking Irish charmer” (WhatsSonStage), “downright casual in his serial wickednesses, almost sociopathic.” (Financial Times)

 

The Times applauded Damien and Jonathan Bailey, saying the pair “excel” as the two warring brothers Edmund and Edgar. The British Theatre Guide complemented the “extremely well executed” “frighteningly credible fierce” fight scene between the two, choreographed by fight director Kate Waters.

Jonathan Bailey and Damien Molony as Edgar and Edmund in King Lear. © Manuel Harlan

 
The DMF DaMo-centric King Lear press reviews round-up!

 

★★★★The Financial Times – Ian Shuttleworth | 2 October 2017
“As the treacherous Edmund, Damien Molony is fluent and downright casual in his serial wickednesses, almost sociopathic.”

★★★★★ WhatsOnStage – Maxwell Cooter | 2 October 2017
“There’s an excellent supporting cast: Damien Molony’s smooth-talking Irish charmer of an Edmund – it’s easy to see why so many fall for his deceptions…”

★★★★ Broadway World – Rona Kelly | 2 October 2017
“The world of Munby’s King Lear feels big, its rotundity encompassing and drawing in audiences. From the King to the “poor naked wretches”, we see their stories and weather the storms with them. The strength of this production comes from its impressive ensemble, led by an incredible but not infallible McKellen” “Damien Molony’s bastard Edmund takes after his father. His actions planned meticulously, this Edmund is an individual with a desire only for power. His relationship to the sisters is an important feature in other productions; here, he uses them as much as they use him.”

★★★★★ Evening Standard – Henry Hitchings | 2 October 2017
“Jonathan Bailey’s Edgar is a touching study of transformation — from naive innocence into morally serious worldliness — and Damien Molony captures the self-seeking resentment of his half-brother Edmund.”

★★★★ The Metro – John Nathan | 2 October 2017
“thriller-paced and intimate production” “The thinking is clear: an unhinged leadership has created a political climate in which the scheming Edmund (Being Human’s Damien Molony) and the barbarity of Lear’s pitiless daughters (Dervla Kirwan and Kirsty Bushell) can thrive.”

★★★★ The Guardian – Michael Billington | 1 October 2017
“Jonathan Munby’s smart, lucid production features plenty of pomp and circumstance, and a superbly detailed performance by McKellen”

British Theatre Guide – Sheila Conner | 1 October 2017
Of the Earl of Gloucester’s two sons—another fight for inheritance here—Damien Molony really gets into the spirit of bastard son Edmund, wily, devious and resentful, while legitimate Edgar (Jonathan Bailey) is innocently far too trusting. Fight director Kate Waters, as well as the battle scenes, has choreographed a frighteningly credible fierce fight between the two boys, extremely well executed and there must be a bruise or two to show for it.

★★★★ The Times – Anne Treneman | 30 September 2017
“Damien Molony and Jonathan Bailey excel…”

★★★★★ The Stage – Mark Shenton | 30 September 2017
“This King Lear is an intensely moving experience..” “There’s strong work, too, from Jonathan Bailey as a notably lithe Edgar, Damien Molony as Edmund, and the superb Michael Matus as a blustering Oswald”

 

 

So that’s the press, but what did the audience think? Here are our favourite reactions in Twitter land so far! (We’ll add more as they come!)

 







 

Bravo to Damien, cast and company on the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to King Lear, which runs at Chichester Festival Theatre until 28 October.

We fervently hope for a West End transfer and a recording or broadcast for the successful production!

 

Have you been lucky enough to see Damien in King Lear? We’d love to hear from you! Share your reactions and vote in the poll here!



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Here are some great blogger reviews, with nice words on Damien!

 
 
Partially Obstructed View
(with added Damien push ups gif, much appreciated)
 

Theatre review: King Lear (Minerva, Chichester)

 

 

There Ought To Be Clowns 

"Jonathan Bailey's troubled Edgar and Damien Molony's manipulative Edmund pique all sorts of interests .."

Review: King Lear, Minerva

 

 

Mind The Blog

"Opposite him is Damien Molony as Edmund. Regular readers will be aware that this is my favourite character in the entire play, so my instinct told me this was a perfect piece of casting – and it was not wrong. Molony captures Edmund’s feelings of being an outsider, demonstrated perfectly as he has to hurriedly copy the court gestures, as well as being something of a rebel. Had he been legitimate, perhaps this would make him an unpolished diamond, instead his status has started to eat away at him and leads to his plan to usurp Edgar’s place. These scenes play out at pace once Edmund has confided in us, Molony showing him to be quick-witter and expertly two-faced; as he seems to succeed with such ease, he becomes steadily more nefarious, only momentarily blind-sided by the love triangle in which he finds himself with Regan and Goneril. A superlative Shakespearean debut."

King Lear Review

 

 

The Real Chris Sparkle

"Damien Molony (whom we last saw also alongside Ian McKellen in No Man’s Land) is an excellent Edmund; not too obsequious in his manipulation of his father, nor too pantomime villain as he plays off Lear’s daughters against each other. He’s just quietly, intensely credible"

Review – King Lear, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, 6th October 2017



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So....yeah.....I saw King Lear on Friday night (sorry for the delay in posting!). And it was absolutely excellent!  .....not sure I can add much to what's already been said.

The whole production was great - modern Shakespeare can often seem a bit....forced....a bit ill fitting. But every little thing works here.  The Minerva may be an intimate space, but at times the scale of the production feels much bigger than the size of the theatre......although it was wonderful to be so close as to see all those small gestures and hear every little sigh.  And the entire cast were brilliant - Kirsty Bushell was especially amazing as Regan.

And, of course, Damien played the bastard perfectly, or the perfect bastard....

I'm not sure why, but I'm really happy that he kept his own accent. There aren't many laughs in King Lear (not even from the Fool!) but Damien managed to get a couple, as he (quite literally) stuck his finger up at the gods, and there was a kiss with Goneril which was just amorous enough, and lingered just long enough to elicit a quiet murmer from the audience.  I have to confess that I may have been grinning a little inappropiately when he came on in the army fatigues - and the fight between Edmund and Edgar was really quite glorious.

It's a definite 10 out of 5 from me smile

 

Oh yes...I nearly forgot!!  I was sitting at the end of the row and got there stupidly early which meant I had to stand up to let everybody past.....and who should come past to sit just a few seats away from me but Roisin Conaty!!! I was so gutted that I was on my own and couldn't nudge somebody in the ribs and whisper loudly "Look!! It's Roisin Conaty!!!" biggrin

 



-- Edited by fifi on Tuesday 10th of October 2017 10:19:54 PM

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fifi wrote:

So....yeah.....I saw King Lear on Friday night (sorry for the delay in posting!). And it was absolutely excellent!  .....not sure I can add much to what's already been said.

The whole production was great - modern Shakespeare can often seem a bit....forced....a bit ill fitting. But every little thing works here.  The Minerva may be an intimate space, but at times the scale of the production feels much bigger than the size of the theatre......although it was wonderful to be so close as to see all those small gestures and hear every little sigh.  And the entire cast were brilliant - Kirsty Bushell was especially amazing as Regan.

And, of course, Damien played the bastard perfectly, or the perfect bastard....

I'm not sure why, but I'm really happy that he kept his own accent. There aren't many laughs in King Lear (not even from the Fool!) but Damien managed to get a couple, as he (quite literally) stuck his finger up at the gods, and there was a kiss with Goneril which was just amorous enough, and lingered just long enough to elicit a quiet murmer from the audience.  I have to confess that I may have been grinning a little inappropiately when he came on in the army fatigues - and the fight between Edmund and Edgar was really quite glorious.

It's a definite 10 out of 5 from me smile

 

Oh yes...I nearly forgot!!  I was sitting at the end of the row and got there stupidly early which meant I had to stand up to let everybody past.....and who should come past to sit just a few seats away from me but Roisin Conaty!!! I was so gutted that I was on my own and couldn't nudge somebody in the ribs and whisper loudly "Look!! It's Roisin Conaty!!!" biggrin

 

 


 Fifi! So awesome you saw King Lear! Really happy another Molonian had the honour of seeing Damien in this special production. Thank you for telling us all about it, and sharing your reaction. Damn, I knew I should have put a 10 star option in the poll!

It sounds like an electrifying intense experience.. and it is a long play too, which must add to it being an all consuming experience. What a joy. Thanks again for sharing, it is heartwarming to read.

How cool you were sitting near Roisin Conaty! Surrounded by stars! She tweeted about seeing the play, I forgot to post it.





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 Fifi, fantastic, that you liked it so much. I'm glad for you.
What a funny story about Roisin. biggrin (But i know exactly what you mean when you have a great experience and there is no one to laugh with in that moment)



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So wonderful to hear so many fantastic reviews! Brilliant round-up of all the reviews and mentions for Damien, domino!

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Thanks Rosie!

Here is another great blogger review, with a lovely mention of Damien:

"Damien Molony’s Edmund is a role that is too often played to as a calculating pantomime villain. Here, Molony’s soft Irish brogue offers an Edmund imbued with an embellished evil that again comes with a classy credibility."

Read more here: King Lear (at Chichester) - Review | Jonathan Baz Reviews



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Loved hearing your description.  Sadly I will never get to see in person but oh how I would hope hope hope somehow a recording would be made and someone would take pity on us in the USA!!  Thank you for sharing your experience.

 



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Wow, what can I say. I was Saturday night at the theater and it was a fantastic experience.

First I must say it is a great little theater and indoors totally cozy.

To the play it is difficult to add something new. It has already been written so much. It was such a great performance of all actors, especially by Ian McKellen and Kirsty Bushell as Regan ( next to Damien of course). It was as described in the reviews. Jonathan Baily has also played a fantastic role. But personally I found the role unattractive. To somehow weep. My heart goes with the bad guys biggrin(only in the cinema, TV or theater of course).

We sat in the first row and I exactly next to the 2nd entrance (there is one exactly in the middle, through which also the spectators go and a 2nd entrance, which is somewhat narrower). I am not very tall, but my feet were somehow in the way. And with Damien's first apperance (he was the first one to come through this course), he ran through the entrance and almost stepped on my feet.

It was so fantastic to be able to experience him so closely. He was so focused all the time. He played Edmund so well. Not too evil, more imagined and convinced of himself (and his deeds) in the beginning. But to the end he was very devilish and evil.

I could see the special gestures for Damien (he always points with the middle finger on something), or his facial expression when he is annoyed (I love it biggrin).

Damien also had some scenes on the stage alone, he has a great presence and has also completed the stage alone.

I had unfortunately some problems to understand everything (especially when the half-naked Jonathan Bailey was standing right in front of me or Damien past me).

Dawn had already described the costumes . I also liked most the carmouflage outfit (i own the same shoes (Magnum Boots), how funny).

It is actually so different to see a play live and not in the cinema. However, I would also like to say that the size and arrangement of the theater played a big role, that I liked it so much.

I did not get wet, but I got some drops in the face and Damien's coat against my head.

In the end, I was surprised how many dead people there were. Probably I was the only one who did not know how the play ends. But it is a great story.

Oh, the scene with the eyes I found not bad. I know it is played, so I am more interested in how it is done. But: After the theater, we walked through the city, where we saw a man lying in front of a pub. He was just beaten into the face. Great excitement, police comes and as we walk by, I saw a lot of blood running down the sidewalk. That was bad.

Nevertheless, it was a unique experience and if Damien participates in another play, I would probably come again. highfive



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Sana wrote:
In the end, I was surprised how many dead people there were.

This just made me laugh out loud biggrin All Shakespeare's tragedies have a pretty high body count - this site reckons King Lear is number two in the charts!

So glad you enjoyed it Sana! I wouldn't worry about not understanding everything, I'm sure the vast majority of the audience at any Shakespeare play would say the same - if it's well performed, you get everything you need to get in any case!

 



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Sana wrote:

Wow, what can I say. I was Saturday night at the theater and it was a fantastic experience.

First I must say it is a great little theater and indoors totally cozy.

To the play it is difficult to add something new. It has already been written so much. It was such a great performance of all actors, especially by Ian McKellen and Kirsty Bushell as Regan ( next to Damien of course). It was as described in the reviews. Jonathan Baily has also played a fantastic role. But personally I found the role unattractive. To somehow weep. My heart goes with the bad guys biggrin(only in the cinema, TV or theater of course).

We sat in the first row and I exactly next to the 2nd entrance (there is one exactly in the middle, through which also the spectators go and a 2nd entrance, which is somewhat narrower). I am not very tall, but my feet were somehow in the way. And with Damien's first apperance (he was the first one to come through this course), he ran through the entrance and almost stepped on my feet.

It was so fantastic to be able to experience him so closely. He was so focused all the time. He played Edmund so well. Not too evil, more imagined and convinced of himself (and his deeds) in the beginning. But to the end he was very devilish and evil.

I could see the special gestures for Damien (he always points with the middle finger on something), or his facial expression when he is annoyed (I love it biggrin).

Damien also had some scenes on the stage alone, he has a great presence and has also completed the stage alone.

I had unfortunately some problems to understand everything (especially when the half-naked Jonathan Bailey was standing right in front of me or Damien past me).

Dawn had already described the costumes . I also liked most the carmouflage outfit (i own the same shoes (Magnum Boots), how funny).

It is actually so different to see a play live and not in the cinema. However, I would also like to say that the size and arrangement of the theater played a big role, that I liked it so much.

I did not get wet, but I got some drops in the face and Damien's coat against my head.

In the end, I was surprised how many dead people there were. Probably I was the only one who did not know how the play ends. But it is a great story.

Oh, the scene with the eyes I found not bad. I know it is played, so I am more interested in how it is done. But: After the theater, we walked through the city, where we saw a man lying in front of a pub. He was just beaten into the face. Great excitement, police comes and as we walk by, I saw a lot of blood running down the sidewalk. That was bad.

Nevertheless, it was a unique experience and if Damien participates in another play, I would probably come again. highfive


 Sana! Thank you so much for sharing your King Lear experience with us all! What a truly brilliant write up highfive

You've really given us an excellent sense of how close you are to the play/ actors and Damien. WOW! And I loved hearing about Damien being on the stage alone. Oh to see him delivering Edmund's soliloquies - a special experience indeed.

Lol, yes Shakespeare tragedies tend to end with everyone dying, and his comedies with everyone marrying! 

So happy to hear you had an amazing time, especially after travelling so far. Really sorry to hear you witnessed the incident outside the pub :( it sounds like the tragedy continued outside the theatre. Please don't let it put you off coming again!

Thank you for adding your vote to the forum poll too - that is 3 votes in total now. Woohoo!!!

 



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I'm glad you enjoyed it Sana! Sitting in the front row must have been amazing! Especially being right next to the exit/entrance. When I saw it somebody sitting by the entrance nearly got hit by a flying pigs head when Ian McKellen threw it offstage! What a brilliant introduction to Shakespeare for you....and as Maghat said it doesn't matter so much if you don't understand all the words as long as you get the story.



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Maghat wrote:
Sana wrote:
In the end, I was surprised how many dead people there were.

This just made me laugh out loud biggrin All Shakespeare's tragedies have a pretty high body count - this site reckons King Lear is number two in the charts!

So glad you enjoyed it Sana! I wouldn't worry about not understanding everything, I'm sure the vast majority of the audience at any Shakespeare play would say the same - if it's well performed, you get everything you need to get in any case!

 


 

ahh, do not laugh. biggrinbiggrin

But I liked it. So I'll maybe look the next time the number 1.



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It was a good sort of laugh biggrin

I've never seen Titus Andronicus - some productions have notoriously had audience members being sick and fainting because they've been that bit too realistic! I'm a bit on the squeamish side and I don't think it'generally considered one of Shakespeare's best so I've always skipped it when I've been offered the chance to see it!

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Calling all fans who have seen Damien in King Lear

(You lucky things!)


We'd love to hear what you thought!

and don't forget to vote in the poll!



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Dear Damien Molony forum, hello! So, I booked to see King Lear back in March. It seemed a crazily long time in advance to book a play. But I love Sir Ian McKellen. I wasn’t the hugest fan of No Man’s Land as a play, but it showed me what an incredible actor Sir Ian is on stage & I have also seen him watching plays numerous times. I was even at my local theatre once - The Everyman in Liverpool & there was a post show talk with the actress in the play I’d watched. The man chairing the talk said IM had been in the audience that night (bit unprofessional of him to divulge, but I guess he was excited!) He’d just come to Liverpool to watch some local theatre. So, I love his love for Theatre and I know that he truly does love theatre.

 
I actually didn’t know King Lear at all. I’d never read or seen it. I must have been one of very few audience members for whom this was my very first experience of the play. All I had seen was the one minute clip from “The Complete Walk” of Lear & Cordelia & all I knew of the play was that there is a King, Lear & 3 daughters... And people say “Ooh, when will *insert actor* play Lear...?” in hushed tones.
 
I loved the production. And I confess that I too was surprised by quite how much death there was! And also at how flawed most of the characters are. And may I add as well that the programme says that originally the ending was considered too bleak so it was altered for a long time for *spoilers* Lear & Cordelia to live. But am I alone in finding the ending actually quite happy and optimistic? Edgar & Kent: the two nicest & most empathic characters are the ones who remain & Edgar heading towards a future with words of truth feels to me a beautiful and positive ending & something I wish we could feel in our world around about now too!
 
Damien first: I really enjoyed his performance because, for me he managed to convey that Edmund’s desire for power stemmed from an anger and sorrow that he was considered somehow beneath others due to the illegitimacy of his birth... yet at the same time, Edmund is entirely unempathetic. I love when an actor can allow themselves to be disliked. Though *spoilers* I still felt sorry for Edmund when he died (most especially how it is just considered an irrelevancy, haha! Aww!) I found Edmund intelligent & sleekly cutting as a knife. He had no scruples & Damien played him so matter of factly: like the only way anything was ever going to come his way would he if he went out there and took it without a care for anyone and so that was what he’d do. Finger to the sky & to all humanity. Sociopathic, I guess, yet not without underlying reason.
 
I thought the entire cast were brilliant. I have to say I was particularly impressed by Jonny Bailey who I found really moving as Edgar. His character goes on such a journey & by the end he was so poignant. Especially the second night: his final speech - I mean it is oddly both heartbreaking and happy. Pain brings him through innocence to an understanding of truth. Also, I’m not entirely convinced they didn’t actually whip him every night. Those blood-oozing wounds looked so realistic! He is really the heart of the play I felt & I’ve seen him in stuff on the telly but he’s never an actor I’ve thought “wow” towards before, but I did here. I had no idea he could give a performance like this on stage.
 
I also loved Tamara Lawrence’s Cordelia. Some actors have the knack of speaking Shakespeare as though they are just in conversation with you & she has this I felt: so it is so easy to understand and feel it. A real talent.
 
I mean, I could mention everyone: Sinead Cusack & Danny Webb we’re both brilliant too & Kirsty Bushell who was in many ways the complete opposite of her Juliet I saw recently at The Globe.
 
Then Sir Ian himself. What a master he is. He became ever more powerful I felt as Lear himself became physically and mentally weaker. And what a physical performance this is. Such heart and soul.
 
So here is when I confess. Even when I booked back in March, it was nearly sold out, but I live near Liverpool so Chichester is very far & the b&b I stayed in before you have to stay minimum 2 nights. Thus, there happened to be tickets to Thursday & Friday when I booked - just one seat so I booked both nights. Also as I know I did not know Lear and thought it may take two shows to understand it!
 
To try to make the best use of my time, the first day I travelled via London, watched a matinee there, dashed to Chichester & watched King Lear. As you can imagine, I was pretty exhausted, especially by the second half. But I understood it (mostly, I hope) & it was powerful. But I was really looking forward to Friday when I’d be on the front row & could feel it all without having to follow the plot, now I knew it.
 
Friday came. Into the theatre I went. Got my seat. It started a bit late as latecomers were still arriving, but then it got going & the first few minutes I felt every word with so much more meaning (& no effort) than I had on night one. Then, only 10 minutes in I felt really ill. If the first half had been an hour it would have been fine, but I knew it was 2. I knew I couldn’t last 2 hours. In a blackout just after Damien’s solo scene, sooner than I needed, but while I had chance, I ran to the door & the usher said “OK - just run, be quick!” (I was in the nearest seat to the exit) - I was outside a minute at most but the usher outside the door said “Oh, there’s another latecomer, you can watch on the screen.”  I thought they’d let me in in a blackout as the lady inside had implied, but no. Had I known I would not be able to get back in I would have waited longer. After about 20 minutes when I realised there’s been about 3 or 4 blackouts and they hadn’t let me back in I even asked and the lady checked my ticket and as I was sat so near the entrance she radioed to ask if I could go back in at all, but they said no.
 
So I had to watch an hour and a half of the play on a screen. Which while disappointing, I understand & it would have been fine except you just could not hear it. It was so quiet you couldn’t hear the words spoken at all. And I can tell you now this film will not be used for posterity as the quality isn’t good enough. (I am sure the archive recording isn’t better though!) When they were shouting in the theatre, it was louder than on the video. I could have been on the front row, experiencing every nuance I hadn’t caught the night before & instead I was sat here, also not feeling 100%, Not even able to hear it properly. And since the night before had been my first ever experience of Lear, obviously I don’t know it well enough to know the words without being able to hear them. 
 
Worse, at least some actors must have noticed my empty seat, I thought. I considered just leaving the theatre entirely because I felt so ashamed and embarrassed: they’d have seen me there, then I wasn’t there & could I really go back in for the second half? Would they think me rude? Annoying? Awful? I realise all this seems like moaning about nothing at all & so few people who wanted to even got to see the production at all.
 
At least another man was late and watching too (not sure if he was a director or some such as the ushers seemed to know him) but in part it made it worse as I had to try to hold myself together as I was sat beside him, ha.
 
Anyway, I went back in in the second half & I felt it all so much more deeply than the first night. In fact, I couldn’t stop crying. And at first I thought “Oh no! Am I self pitying crying as I missed so much of the play? How terrible. I really hope I am not.” But thankfully Damien helped there as he’d come along on stage & do some proper evil & stop me crying, ha! So I knew it was the play!
 
Sir Ian especially was so moving this second time, and his performance was not quite the same so clearly he must have been a little different every night in some scenes. I really can’t explain all I thought or felt. All I can say is that maybe in the end I felt it even more deeply for having missed such a large amount of the play? Who knows.
 
But I was still worried if any actors had noticed an empty seat & then me there again. I still felt pretty terrible: both for having missed out on such a large proportion of this once in a lifetime experience, after travelling so far & for feeling I’d done the performers some rudeness. I felt ashamed.
 
But then, I don’t know if he did this every night (he did it the night before with someone too) but as Sir Ian left the stage at the end, he picked up a leaf & tonight he gave it to me. And I honestly don’t have words for what that meant to me. I actually couldn’t believe he was handing it to me at first. He probably just randomly gave the leaf to any random person each tonight. But to me it felt like maybe he saw how moved I was, or maybe he noticed I’d missed so much of the play & this gesture made me feel like whatever he thought about that, he at least certainly couldn’t have felt offended by that if he had noticed. This tiny gesture completely made everything ok for me again. It made me feel accepted & understood. I still feel so happy and thankful to Ian McKellen. I’m sure none of this went through his head, but that tiny gesture (& the play of course!) I will never forget.
 
I left the theatre immediately & did not attempt to meet anyone. I don’t know if any others of you did. It didn’t feel so appropriate after such an epic performance, but more than that - I am still worried now & was definitely concerned that night that some actors might have found me rude for having had to leave the first half. Oh gosh, I hope nobody did. Anyway, no way I could have stuck around in that building for even a second!  Instead I left & stood in the field & watched the stars for ages before I eventually left.  It was a beautiful clear night and the constellations all visible, some stars bright enough to twinkle. I felt small beneath the vast canopy.
 
I still can’t believe I had to miss so much of a show I’d had booked for over 6 months. I wouldn’t mind if I’d been drinking or something so there was some daft reason of my own fault. But I hadn’t.  But you know, I was deeply moved by King Lear that second time especially. And in a way it was the worst of evenings, but by the end it was the best of evenings. I just hope that I didn’t offend anyone.
 
Sorry, this was really long & I am sure you didn’t want to know any of it. I am also sorry if some of it seems like a moan asap many of you would have loved to have seen this and I saw it 1.5 times. So sorry.  I could also rave much more about many performances & the play itself but I must off right now. Much love. xxxxx


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Sorry for typos. I typed all that on a train, on my phone!!!



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Dear littleimpulse, 

First of all a big hug to you hug your sharing is extraordinarily moving. I'm so sorry you felt poorly during the performance, how horrible and upsetting that must have been, especially when you couldn't get back in. It sounds like an incredibly emotional journey for you on many levels. But, how beautiful about Sir Ian giving you the leaf I hope you are feeling much better now.

Thank you for such a wonderfully thoughtful, in depth and open sharing of your experience. I may need to read it again to fully take in all you said about the play and performances, mostly struck by the journey you had. I'm really happy that you had a double opportunity to see the play, and that another one of our Molonian friends saw our man on stage!

You're right about most of us not seeing it and for me personally this hurts more than usual, because it is such a special production. But it helps to hear as much as possible, and your account is so visceral and real that it goes some way towards easing that. Plus, for every extra person who got to see King Lear, I feel that little but happier!

Yes, Edmund has always struck me as not just a one note villain, there are definite tragic elements to his story and to me he is driven not by greed, but by pain. Interesting that you found Edmund entirely unempathetic, but that's always going to be a subjective thing. For me, with the source play anyway, that feeling is not black and white, just as his motives aren't. it is really awesome to hear more about how Damien played him.

I could never hear enough about King Lear, so please don't apologise and thank you again for taking the time to share.

domino xxx



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Wow, what a great report. you explained it all so well and I could see it again in front of my eyes. I still can not believe that I was really there and enjoyed this great play.

I'm really sorry that you were feeling sick and you could not watch the first part. but luckily you have already seen it before. and how nice for you that Ian McKellen gave you the leaf. a nice moment. I can not remember if he did that too.



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domino wrote:

 

Yes, Edmund has always struck me as not just a one note villain, there are definite tragic elements to his story and to me he is driven not by greed, but by pain. Interesting that you found Edmund entirely unempathetic, but that's always going to be a subjective thing. For me, with the source play anyway, that feeling is not black and white, just as his motives aren't. it is really awesome to hear more about how Damien played him.


 

Thank you so much domino - *big hug back* grouphug

Probably I should have waited to write about it until back at a computer, but I knew at least I had a big stretch of time on the train, even if phone typing isn't ideal!  I SO WISH I could have enabled everyone to experience the play as well.  It was very much an experience - any theatre is when it is happening so very close in front of you!  You're really immersed in it.  And I think I (& you Sana?) got to have a particularly special experience not knowing the full plot of King Lear - so few people just have been in that situation - having the story revealed to you for the very first time by such masters.

First I'll say a little more about Edmund.  I totally agree that he is driven by pain not greed and I think Damien conveyed this.  When I say I found him unempathetic, I suppose I don't mean that entirely because I did feel sorry and sad for him when he died and I did definitely feel why he was the person he was.  At the same time, I do not think there is anything that can excuse his actions.  I suppose that is what I mean - the actions Edmund takes and the way he uses and would do away with literally anyone to achieve his own ends: I don't think there is any siding with Edmund in that - what he does is unambiguously and completely wrong.  And what's more, he is well aware of this himself - he even makes use of Edgar's innocence for his own ends for example.  He isn't driven by pain to the extent that he is blind to the impact of his actions on others.  He doesn't care about the impact of his actions on others as long as he achieves his ends.  I think that is what I meant by unempathetic.

I wish I could give more details.  I do feel terrible for moaning about missing the play the second time.  Like what a luxury.  I know I would have had to leave the second half at some point and lets face it - what actually happened was waaaaaaayyyyy preferable to being sick all over Ian McKellen, hahaha - just imagine!  And I managed to leave at a point where I didn't disrupt any actors at all which is a bonus.  I think the fact that I didn't feel great likely added to how emotional I got.  I don't know.  I had to hold the arm of my seat to stop shaking.  But it was torture to have to sit 5 foot from the door for an hour and a half, especially knowing I could have lasted longer in there (and I felt better after having left) and also since the lady inside had totally given me the impression I'd be able to go back in.  And not being able to hear what was being said (obviously there were sounds and talking from the bar which made this even worse.). I could even see my seat I should have been sitting in on the screen.  Oh the woe of it, hahaha. Oh well.  And the worst is I feel it is all only my own fault for having ruined my own night.  Like why was it that moment of all the time that could have been not to feel great.

Anyway, the fact that I knew I was going to see it again during my first watch I think meant I didn't focus quite as much as I should on performances to be able to report back as I thought I would have another view.  I was also utterly exhausted the first night. And the second night I was so emotional, it is hard to recall details even of the second half I did see!  I remember more how I felt than any details of anything.

As has been said before, the fight scene at the end was very realistically done.  And I'd love to be able to discuss Edmund's death.  I'm only thinking about it as I type this, but do you think Edmund sort of accepts his death because he's aware he'd have done the same to anyone himself?  Hmm....  I mean, I don't think there is any remorse there.  Is there respect though, by the end of Edgar?  I don't know.  Does Edmund respect anyone?  And the whole of Edmund's downfall actually.  Did he rail against it much at all?  Did he have any way out by that stage.  I mean, he certainly does fight!

It was really amazing.  It's funny too as on the first night I really enjoyed it and was blown away by the performances, but I was thinking *Hmm... but the actions these characters take - would people really do this.*  You know, the way Lear makes such HUGE errors in craving flattery and splitting his Kingdom and so on.  I couldn't get past if he truly loved Cordelia so, why would he act that way towards her?! The way the sisters turn on their Father and on each other.  The way people are so easily tricked by Edmund.  How almost all of the characters are so fickle.  But on the second night, I often thought of people I knew and situations as well as experiencing the play.  Weird.  Lear's scenes late on in the play I found especially moving and of course, with relationships between Fathers and daughters I started to think of my own Daddy who is no longer with us.  

Yeah, I find it so sad the way Edgar is transformed from someone who is innocent into someone who has to kill into someone who is ready to kill... and eventually into someone who has the understanding of truly what is needed in the world which most characters in the play until now never learned.  The fact that that is what it takes to understand this.  And the fact that it is the most innocent character who has to suffer to get to this understanding.  But there is I think something beautiful in that too.

I mean I'm starting to try to analyse King Lear itself here and I am aware that literally my only exposure to the play has been 1.5 performances of it (actually, I didn't even see as much as half the second performance did I, now I think on it! Sorrow!) So I am sure you all understand all of this way more than me!

(My leaf got a little bit destroyed on its travels home.  (I think it was the one Lear stamped a mouse under) but you know, it still exists in fragments...!  I guess it was the gesture anyway, not the leaf itself which matters.  Well it'll have to be what matters, as leaves decay in the end...)

Yeah, it really was a big experience.  The whole of yesterday I felt kind of weird and on the verge of tears, and even now I haven't entirely shaken it all.  It is hard to explain.

I hope they may make the performance available to view for everyone sometime.  I don't suppose they will transfer it because the whole point was that Ian wanted to do it in a tiny venue... and also it was proper tough physically (I think Sir Ian had tape on his shoulder - you could see it under his shirt in the storm - I guess from throwing chairs and carrying Tamara about on his shoulders.). They really kept the actors soaking wet for so long too.  I hope there was a sauna backstage for them.

Oh well, I hope I'm not thought of as "the rude person who walked out and missed half the play" oh dear. 

It was honestly such a day of emotional highs and lows that initially I did not think I would ever be able (or want) to write a single word about it, so thanks for putting up with my ridiculous (over)sharing.

And I really cannot ever thank Ian McKellen enough for turning that second night from one that while incredibly moving, was full of regret and shame too in one simple gesture into something full of love and so into a memory that will ultimately remain very special to me forever.  xxx



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How lovely to have this production as your first ever exposure to King Lear, littleimpulse! Thanks for sharing so much about your experience of the play.

So sorry to hear you felt poorly during the second performance. I'd be fairly sure the actors are wrapped up enough in doing their job (if it's immersive for the audience, imagine what it must be like for them!) that they wouldn't have noticed a seat that had been occupied had become empty. It sounds like you managed to slip out without creating any disturbance and at least you felt well enough to go back in after the interval and engage fully with the performance, even though it must have been frustrating to have to watch on the screen for so long. What a lovely thing to be on the receiving end of the leaf, too!

If you don't already know it, the "No Fear Shakespeare" stuff from SparkNotes is an accessible and interesting guide to many of the plays. You might have fun exploring some of the stuff about themes, motifs and character notes. The one on Edmund ends with this comment about his dying statment:

His peculiar change of heart, rare among Shakespearean villains, is enough to make the audience wonder, amid the carnage, whether Edmund’s villainy sprang not from some innate cruelty but simply from a thwarted, misdirected desire for the familial love that he witnessed around him.

Here's the SparkNotes entry for King Lear if you're interested!

As for the peculiarity of Lear's actions, there's been quite a lot of discussion recently about it being a study in dementia. In the recent NT production, Simon Russel Beal went so far as to identify exactly what form of dementia he felt Lear was suffering (Lewy Body dementia) and used some of the physical manifestations of the disease as well as the mental ones.



-- Edited by Maghat on Monday 30th of October 2017 12:48:21 PM

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Thanks for sharing your experiences, littleimpulse. It sounds like you had quite a time of it! What a lovely, special moment that Sir Ian gave you the leaf.

Thanks for sharing so much detail about the play and your thoughts about the characters and performances. I hope you are feeling better now.

Maghat, thanks for sharing the info about the Shakespeare guides. I'm not familiar with King Lear so it's good to have some background info.

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