It has been nearly a week now since I saw the Masterpiece Theatre production of King Lear and I can't get it out of my mind. Nor do I want to. In fact, there's about two hours in between when I started writing this and finishing it: I went back to reread this poem I thought I knew well.
The performance moved me to tears. I have no higher praise for a playing of this or any other of the Shakespearean tragedies. I would merely hope my tears were as sincere and prophetic as Cordelia's.
In a time when so many productions go for glitz and gimmick, this one goes to the heart of the matter. Ian Holm's forceful playing -- no, more than that -- his BEING King Lear hit home. This IS Lear, fond and foolish and every inch a king even in the pother of the elements.
The opening shot of the sun in eclipse, and the focus on Gloucester delivering that speech, is the icon of the performance. It puts the focus on the intersection of natural determination and voluntary action, rational or irrational, that can be singled out as a theme. But hey, I'm long out of school and I don't have to do this. I write because I found in this performance a kind of truth.
Thank you, WGBH, PBS, KOPB, and the Royal Shakespeare Company for a profoundly important reading of King Lear.
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