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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
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Molonian
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KING LEAR | Reviews, Reactions & POLL! Have you seen Damien in the Chichester production?
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Littleimpulse, I really feel for you that you felt I'll during the performance. I think that knowing you can't just pop out easily makes you feel worse and the feeling of relief at having 'escaped' helps towards feeling better! If it's any consolation, I doubt if the actors noticed, they're too caught up in the play.
I found your synopsis and feelings about the play really interesting, thank you for taking the time to share. I think it's wonderful that it made such an impression you just had to talk about it to someone - and the Forum was lucky enough to be your first choice. I know what it's like, you feel hyper after seeing something truly enthralling and you are just buzzing too much to relax.
I really envy you seeing this, not once but twice (well 1.5 times, as you said). It would have been really unusual if they had allowed you back in before a natural break, even latecomers aren't allowed their seat after the performance has started.
That leaf (lucky girl) is probably safely pressed in a book now, I expect, or laminated. What a wonderful end to the evening!

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I had not read the book before i went to the theater. So did not know how it ends. After I returned home, I read King Lear, although in German translation, but not in a modern version, I was a bit baffled. confuse  Very hard to read.

But your tip, maghat, with the website was good. Thanks for that. Now it is a bit clearer.I did not notice one or two important things in the theater. Acoustically it was sometimes difficult for me, when the actors stood with  the back to me. Or like Edmund, who was lying on the ground when he was wounded by Edgar. But he was not lying on his back, but on his stomach. So it was hard to understand him. I can only agree with the analysis of Edmund on the website. That's exactly how it came over. I just can not write it down like that.


I can understand you well, littleimpuls, that you wanted to write about it as fast as possible. I also felt very strange afterwards. I also had a long journey and the 3 1/2 hours in the theater were very exhausting. But please do not feel bad, here is the right place to write about your thoughts. And you did the right thing when you left the theatre. You did not know you were going to feel better so quickly.



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Damiac
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littleimpulse - how lucky that you managed to get tickets on consecutive nights....but I'm so sorry that you weren't well and missed so much! I'm glad you had already had a chance to watch and enjoy it....and hope that being handed that leaf by Sir Ian made up for your bad experience.

On the night I went they were actually telling people as they went in that no one would not be allowed out during the performance. When the lights went up at the end of act 1 somebody on the opposite side of the theatre from me stood up and immediately passed out - they were only just saved from toppling over the seats infront of them because somebody grabbed them as they went over. I couldn't help wondering if they'd sat feeling ill for a while but having been told that they wouldn't be allowed to leave hadn't wanted to try....

I first saw King Lear years ago - although I don't remember very much about it - and saw it again last summer (with Timothy West as Lear, and Stephanie Cole as the fool) Dispite Edmund's obvious villiany, it has always stuck me that his actions were driven, at least in part, by his own mistreatment - indeed the very first introduction we have to the character his father is insulting him! And it is true that his dying speech hints at remorse for his actions....but I have to say that I felt Damien's Edmund did not feel very sympathetic.

His 'victims' weren't just collateral damage in his quest for position and power, there was an apparent glee in the chaos which he was causing....it felt as much about revenge on his father and brother as it did in simply trying to usurp them. His attack on the fool just as the lights went down at the end of act 1 (which isn't in the script!!) was quite chilling coming as it did after Gloucester had just had his eyes...removed - and completely unnecessary! I also thought it was a nice touch that he fought with a knife, while Edgar fought with his father's staff.... much more fitting for a modern production, but also so much less noble that a sword fight! (Although there may be something a little wrong in the way my heart beat a little faster when he pulled out the knife - dressed in his army fatigues, and squared up to Edgar.....

Delivering his final lines as he did - as Sana said he was almost face down on the stage (and facing away from me!) - kind of denied any opportunity to express proper remorse and at the end I was actually left wondering what his ulterior motive was when he said that he would do some good before he died..... 

 

 

 



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Thanks so much for the link Maghat! I look forward to exploring SparkNotes further.  I confess, I don't even remember Edmund repenting at the end to be honest.  I do apologise as if Damien said those lines I don't even recall it at all, oops!  Clearly it didn't feel like a repentance to me... though I don't wish for any character to die.  (Poor me, watching King Lear! haha!)

Thank you so much to everyone for your kind words too.  And yes, my leaf (at least what remains of it after minor destruction, oops) is now laminated and I've put it in a frame with my programme.

I feel bad now as well as I totally could have got whatever amount of programmes anyone might have wanted for those who couldn't make the production and only after the theatre did I come on here.  I hope anyone that wanted a programme was able to get one. And sorry!

Edit to add: Interesting thought regarding Lear and dementia too, particularly considering - how would Shakespeare have understood/thought of this? 



-- Edited by littleimpulse on Saturday 4th of November 2017 10:44:58 PM

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littleimpulse wrote:

Edit to add: Interesting thought regarding Lear and dementia too, particularly considering - how would Shakespeare have understood/thought of this?


 

At a guess, the same way he understood a lot of stuff - through observation, talking to people and reading other material. The chances he didn't either know somebody suffering dementia himself or have a friend who did seem pretty slim, even though I'd be pretty sure the term "dementia" wasn't used! The sudden rages, irrational descisions, hallucinations - all of those things would surely catch the attention of somebody with Shakespeare's imagination if he saw them, perhaps in the father of a friend or neighbour?

It's possible Edmund's lines were pruned at the end of this production - it sounds from earlier discussion as if there were some fairly radical cuts to bits of speeches that many consider crucial in character setting!



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Very much enjoyed reading this blogger review of King Lear, with a lovely mention of Damien!

For the love of Lear | view from the outside blog review
"As for Edmund (my favourite villain so I tend to be fussy), Damien Molony is compelling and beguiling in the role. He convincingly tricks his brother and father in a way that feels light and natural (I’ve seen enough heavy handed villainous Edmunds to last a lifetime). His rise to power and seductions of Goneril and Regan are played with a seamless authenticity that is a joy to watch. Even his last minute, too late, pang of conscience lands (one of the few moments in this beautiful play that I normally find jarring)."

 



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Another wonderful King Lear review, by Stephen Collins at live theatre UK, with mention of Damien's Edmund. It doesn't seem to be posted anywhere, cannot believe I missed it! 

 

"The Gloucester trio shone. Danny Webb has never been finer than he was here as Gloucester, and his blinding with a butcher’s hook was disturbingly visceral. Damian Molony, caustic, charming and deliciously evil as Edmund, played his part with considerable relish and style. Jonathan Bailey, in the sometimes unforgiving role of Edgar, is a real revelation, making the difficulties of the Poor Tom aspects of the character a seamless part of the whole, and imbuing the betrayed and frightened Gloucester son with real, bracing heart and genial openness. Molony and Bailey really work as brothers, and the jealousy/love which binds them finds its origins in Webb’s flawed patriarch. As a result, Bailey’s speech about his father’s death was truly heart-breaking, an agony of loss."

 

Do take a look at the whole review, it is well worth the read

 

Review – King Lear | Live Theatre UK



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A question for our lucky few forumers who saw King Lear!

What was your experience and interpretation of King Lear, the character himself, in the play - a man struggling with the issues of ageing and relinquishing his power? A man at the beginnings of dementia? A man becoming aware of his ageing, and proactively 'retiring', or reluctantly giving up his power? An unwise or ultimately wise man? A victim of others, a victim of his own power, or not a victim at all? 

There are reasons I am asking these questions - all will be revealed soon! - but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts, thanks!

 

 



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Molonian
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Oh, domino, that's a tough question. I'm trying to write something about it. As I already said, it's a bit difficult for me, I did not understand everything and besides, I was slightly distracted during the theater.  Maybe I'm totally wrong with my observation and Ian McKellen has meant something completely different.
I think it's not just one description. In my opinion, King Lear goes through several stages. Perhaps to compare with the phases of mourning (the 5 phases of mourning after Elisabeth Kübler).
I liked this Rewiew the best:
“But it's McKellen's detailed performance that's the production's triumph. With finely measured intelligence he traces Lear's inexorable movement from pomp via rage and shambolic delirium to melancholy tenderness and the agony of belated self-knowledge”
Whether it is an incipient dementia, I can not say. I have no experience and I do not know anybody.
Obviously, it's something of everything you mentioned. It starts with the fact that he can not understand that his beloved daughter does not tell him what he wants to hear. I think that's not easy for someone who probably has not heard something like that all his life. That also explains why he banishes Kent. I think you have to really imagine how such a king grew up and lived.
Everything that follows then you already wrote. And it's actually a bit of everything.
a man becoming aware of his ageing, and proactively 'retiring'  
Yes, that was his decision. However, he did not think about what to expect. He thought it somehow went on as usual and it would be enough for him to go hunting with his hundred people. And of course that's not the case.

or reluctantly giving up his power?

Even that, because he did not expect what is coming and thought he remains somehow the king.
An man struggling with the issues of ageing and relinquishing his power.
Definitely, and then, when he thinks about it, he realizes that he is old, no king, and made the wrong decision. I think it does not make anybody realize that you are getting older and everything changes and not everything goes on forever as always. That's exactly what he recognizes and with a certain amount of self-irony he reflects this with the fool. And I think you always have to look at it with the background that King Lear has been king all his life and everything has always revolved around him. If something changes from one day to the next, it would be difficult for anyone to handle it. And I do not think he's going crazy, but he realizes that he's just a human like everyone else.

An unwise or ultimately wise man? A victim of others, a victim of his own power, or not a victim at all.

I would not say neither. He is not a victim, it was all his decisions. Even if his daughters were unfair, he would have acted wiser had it not happened. He is also not a wise man. Only human. 
I hope I could help you with it somehow.
 


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Brilliant stuff Sana! Thank you. Yes, the Fool is so key in King Lear, as a play and the character - the only one who will tell him the truth. You make a great point that it begins as his decision, but he does not realise how difficult is is going to be. He flicks the single first domino, with the regal finger, but has no idea what he has begun!

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I agree with Sana that it was Lear's own decision to 'retire' - and he really can't forsee what the consequences will be - but I think he assumes that stepping down as King will only result in a reduction of responsibily and that his status will remain largely unchanged. His intention was to 'proactively retire' and enjoy his old age - he does indeed want to keep a large 'company' of men around him, go hunting, visit his daughters and seemingly have a good time.  Surely that's not an unreasonable assumption?!  He was King after all!

We have no reason to think other than he has been a good king, and a good father, but his eagerness to be flattered by his daughters at the beginning does not reflect on him well. His subsequent rejection of Cordelia, and then Kent, are acts which seem oddly self destructive and possibly foreshadow his later mental decline. With the overarching themes of parent and child, age and youth running through the play it is difficult to ignore the idea that Lear is showing signs of dementia.....especially later on when his grip on reality seems very tenuous. The very fact that he has decided to retire suggests that he is somehow feeling his age.

I don't see that Lear is 'struggling with issues of age and relinquishing his power' - I very much see his struggle as being with his daughters' attitude to his age. Once he has handed over his power, Regan and Goneril see him as only an inconvenience, a potential burden which neither of them want to take on. In their eyes he has no standing, no use, no worth, despite his former status....and the fact that he is their father! They wish to strip him of whatever social position he has, to isolate him, to effectively put him out of sight.

It's an interesting question....and I'll probably think on it some more.  But I hope that's something of an answer wink



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Hi fifi! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Having listened to the pre show talk with Jonathan Munby but not having seen his version of King Lear and only going on the play itself and other interpretations, it is good  to hear how the more subtle layers of these themes were handled. it is certainly a play that addresses ageing, and that is in the source text - Shakespeare definitely intended  it. When Sir Ian played King Lear in the RSC's 2007 production he mentioned at the time that in his mind Lear was not suffering with dementia or the like. But in the CFT production, all the reviews mention his incredible portrayal of Lear in the early stages of dementia and Jonathan Munby specifically mentioned this in the pre-show talk. Perhaps as much a reflection on the current context and how important it is to highlight this devastating condition. But the play does not patronise the process of growing older and also explores the family issues and what we would call retirement, the joys and challenges of that. Yes, you make an important point, the play really does highlight the threat of his isolation too. And, yet it also shows there is so much more to being a person than 'being old', that patronising perception about older people that not only have they retired from a 'career' but from being a whole person, Lear has been a ruler of a kingdom! 

 



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In case you missed it - all has been revealed!

This Christmas the Damien Molony Forum are fundraising for Age UK in our

King Lear Christmas Charity Prize Draw.

 

We're giving away a KING LEAR PROGRAMME SIGNED BY THE WHOLE CAST !

 wowfab

 

Thank you for the discussion here on ageing in King Lear, it helped with the decision on which charity to support with the fundraiser.

 



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Damien Molony Forum wrote:

A question for our lucky few forumers who saw King Lear!

What was your experience and interpretation of King Lear, the character himself, in the play - a man struggling with the issues of ageing and relinquishing his power? A man at the beginnings of dementia? A man becoming aware of his ageing, and proactively 'retiring', or reluctantly giving up his power? An unwise or ultimately wise man? A victim of others, a victim of his own power, or not a victim at all? 

There are reasons I am asking these questions - all will be revealed soon! - but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts, thanks!


Hmm... I wish I had written about the play entirely at the time as it is hard to recall now.  I clearly hadn't thought of dementia at the time, as Maghat mentioned it.  I see how the interpretation fits, but as someone watching the play not knowing it at all for the first time it obviously didn't occur to me then (though Lear hospitalised with Cordelia makes me ponder).  I was struck by Lear's physical weakness.  He began the play throwing chairs about, yet as the play progressed seemed to age physically (in stark contrast to the fact that Sir Ian was still being soaked to the skin and carrying people on his back.)  And while Lear definitely has moments where is is far from lucid, at the end of the play he is lucid and I think the weight of his errors holds more power if there isn't necessarily a cause of brain deterioration, hmm...  I mean, it could be dementia, but when you have lost not only power, but also your faith in family, flattery and all you think is true, a breakdown doesn't feel at all a stretch to me...

I agree with fifi - I think Lear chose to retire, and hoped to enjoy his latter years.  I don't recall feeling he seemed like he'd been forced.  When he made the choice, I didn't see or feel anything to indicate he was doing it because he felt his age in any severe way though either.  But perhaps this is why he requires flattery at this point.  He is relinquishing the thing which is his power.  He is King.  It must be huge to give that up and I can imagine the very task of doing so could cause any insecurity inside you to crave flattery as though this might be the only route to retain some control of his future.  You know: protection from those he is handing power over to.  Cordelia's words do show she is unwilling to "go along" with what anyone else may ask of her.  Perhaps Lear relinquishes responsibility but hopes to retain some power, so he hopes he will still have some say in things and unwisely believes his daughter's words and the way in which they react here?  Perhaps he feels he can't trust Cordelia, misguided though he is?  If he hopes to retain power he may believe if his other daughters will speak the words he wants to hear they'll also implement all he wishes and since Cordelia rebels here, he feels she may also not listen to him in any other matters?

As I say, I did find it hard to understand Lear's lack of judgement and most importantly of all how he could turn on Cordelia whatever she may say or not say, if he really did love her most & I presume he had some understand of his daughters' natures?!  (I liked the touch that when Lear tears up the map to dole out, he tears it into "Scotland", "Wales & Ireland" (I think?) & "England" - the last of which he is going to give Cordelia.)

If anything, I felt Regan and Goneril's actions impact upon Lear's mental and psychological state.  Both in the realisation of the impact of his own decisions and actions, but before it gets to that stage, in making Lear feel he has no value I suppose, which for a King is a self-immolation (which Lear initiated!). He then has neither power, not family.

I guess, I felt the play was all about the cruelties people do unto each other.  More than a play about Kingly power, it felt more like a play about family-power (I mean, a play where the stakes are life and death, death, death of course!)  Evidently a central theme is age and how age impacts Lear's judgement and actions and how others see him as less due to his age.  But also, I find it so beautiful how the play ends, because there are so many cruel people in King Lear and I have to say that in this production there was so much gleeful cruelty, so that the play ends with the kindest characters and offers a future of hope.  It was so warm to me and offered such hope to the times we live in.

I think Lear reacts unwisely, but there is also wisdom in him... and I would not say there are a huge amount of wise characters in the play.  Many of the younger characters crave power, et the one who receives power is the one who truly understands how the world needs to be as time moves forth.  

Hmm... dunno if I answered anything. RRRR! werewolfghostdancingbloodyaygrouphugtheatrecurtainsspotlight

 

 



-- Edited by littleimpulse on Friday 1st of December 2017 10:24:01 PM

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