[1 of 1 customers found this review helpful]
King Lear: King McKellan Reigns
By Blake K from Los Angeles, CA on 10/28/2007
Audience Loved It, Brilliant Acting, Engaging Plot, Great costumes
Fans of Ian McKellan, Fans Of Serious Theater Only, Fans of Shakespearre, Out-Of-Towners, Special Occasions
I enjoyed Ian McKellan and the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of KING LEAR. The acting was good overall. The use of special effects, such as actual rain falling during the storm, was a nice touch. The costumes were excellent.Ian McKellan's Lear was subtle and contained at times, but this was very true to the character as he captured the senility, emotional pain, and age of this tragic king. The joy, rage, sadness, and humor that he brought to the role was fantastic. You almost wish Shakespeare had written more for him to play.I also enjoyed the performances of the following roles: Goneril (Frances Barber), Regan (Monica Dolan), Earl of Gloucester (William Gaunt), Lear's Fool (Sylvester McCoy), and Edgar (Ben Meyjes). Monica Dolan's twisted interpretation of Regan was very interesting and Sylvester McCoy was such a joy as the Fool--he made you laugh at his jokes even if you do not understand the archaic turns of speech.I must be honest. I had expected that every role would be perfectly played, since this is indeed the Royal Shakespeare Company. However I was disappointed with a few of the major characters. They were not bad performances as it were, but just adequate. Perhaps their work seems diminished in the presence of strong work by the aforementioned actors. I was not impressed by the performances of Cordelia (Romola Garai), the Duke of Albany (Julian Harries), and Edmund (Philip Winchester).I would highly recommend purchasing seats closer to the action. I was in the balcony. I rented binoculars on-site for [$] and discovered at times that make-up, such as scars, and special effects, like blood from a knife cut onstage, did not read from the balcony with the naked eye. However, I suspect the seats that are "on stage" to right and left of the thrust stage were probably too close and do not provide a good view of the action (since they must watch the play like a tennis court match).Keep in mind that I sat in the balcony, but at times it was difficult to hear the actors. This may be due to the acoustics of Royce Hall. Or perhaps due to vocal technique, since some actors were loud and clear each and every time they were on stage.Please understand that I thoroughly enjoyed KING LEAR. I'm so glad that the Royal Shakespeare Company came here. My complaints are minor and probably to some seem trivial. I was willing to pay more for my ticket to this sold-out event, because it was a once in a lifetime experience for me. If you like Shakespeare, do not miss this show!