On Wednesday evening I stood for three and a half hours watching actors perform a Shakespeare classic with a cold breeze blowing through my hair. Wrapped up in four layers and a scarf I witnessed a multitude of people take on roles and use stage space in a way I have never seen before. Can you tell if I liked it yet?
I am a little on the fence because it was The Globe which means of course it was incredible but I think it could have been a little better (sorry Shakespeare!) I saw Hamlet last year and that blew me away I was thinking about it for days whereas with King Lear I was glad to have seen it but it didn’t make a huge difference to me.
One thing that was exceptional was the portrayal of King Lear by Kevin R McNally. I could not fault him. He came on stage and demanded presence, he offered the two split personalities of Lear with perfection and he inspired the actor within me. The others were also very good but I think Kevin R McNally was in a league of his own.
The scenery was very basic but of course that is classic Shakespeare, fun fact, they couldn’t afford the cost when it was first built so they used basic staging and got the actors to announce where they were/what they were using. For instance, ‘we must enter this hovel’ is announced and the audience use there imagination to create the hovel with their minds. With this in mind the stage was used brilliantly, they used the pillars and space with such creativity. One thing which was a bit weird was the use of some props which I won’t divulge too much, but metal cages for instance were used to transport people which I didn’t really feel fit the play.
One thing I did really love was the use of the music. The musicians traditionally stay up above the stage but in this portrayal some of the actors used musical instruments too. They became the storm in the storm scene. They used drums to portray thunder and came down into the audience which broke the fourth wall and really immersed the audience into the play. We felt part of the performance not just spectators.
Overall, I definitely loved the show and it has helped understand King Lear. It allowed me to visualise the play I am studying at University. It opened my eyes and was definitely worth standing three hours for. The ending was beautiful and fulfilled my expectations of how I perceived it when I read the play. I would highly recommend going but it does close soon! So any Globe play is definitely worth the time and money, you can expect a masterclass interpretation as the place lives and breathes Shakespeare.
I must leaveth and I desire thou has’t enjoyed mine review! I prithee you gaze upon some Shakespeare soon!
Hannah Jayne Artis ❤
PS. Here is an pic of me and my classmates at The Globe! Note I am the only one with merchandise (not that I am obsessed or anything!)