Jason Gignac's Reviews > King Lear: Side by Side

King Lear by William Shakespeare
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May 23, 09

bookshelves: fill-in-the-gaps
Read in May, 2009

Somehow, I made it through school without reading King Lear. I don't know how I managed it. I read R&J, Hamlet, Macbeth, but never King Lear. So, I just listened to it - what a strange play...

First of all, let me just discuss the recording I heard. I listened to the Librivox recording of the play, made in 2006 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first performance of the play (trivia note - this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's Sonnets being published...). It was... a mixed bag. Andy Minter as King Lear was magnificient, and Simon Taylor and John Gonzalez did a great job as the two sons of Gloucester - while the fifth act had it's weaknesses for Taylor, his playing of the feigned madness parts was wonderfully believable. There were other roles that I cringed at (I won't name names, so as not to offend). So, it was a strange way to experience the play for the first time, listening as I washed the dishes, ran errands, etc.

The play itself... well I can see why people say it's Shakespeare's best - it's certainly extremely deep, and takes a pretty straightforward story and uses it to tackle some really deep themes. Lear is a truly fascinating character, and I really find it fascinating, the way Shakespeare contrasts him with himself throughout. All in all, a worthwhile play to read. It would be wonderful to see it performed now. And, now I've experienced the reasoning behind my old friend Sarah Kortemeier popping out with "Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!" in terrible Scotch brogue :). Good times...
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