Lear

I am really glad I got to go see Lear. Mason did a fabulous job. I realized that originally another Santa Barbara cast member was slated to play the king–Lionel–but for whatever reason, Mason took over for him. Also, Edmund was amazingly well cast–he pulled off the Machiavellian wickedness, and boy was he delicious doing it. Evil never was so sexy. Edgar also did a fine job, although we were all taken aback when he disrobed–completely–right in front of us.
People say the play means different things to them during the different stages of their lives. For me, all I could see this time was how a narcissistic parent can destroy his children, the people around them, and himself. Gloucester and Lear both show their children only conditional love, and they have obvious favorites, who they turn on at the slightest suggestion of inobedience. This seems to me their tragic flaw, what brings the story to its bloody ending. A thankless child may be sharper than a serpent’s tooth, but what about a father who does not love his children?
Andrew had this weird idea that he wanted to experience Lear for the first time as performed on stage. He wanted to know nothing about the play. Nothing. He even was irritated when I mentioned the bloodbath at the end, but I pointed out that could hardly be a giveaway if you already know it’s a tragedy by Shakespeare. I found this approach a bit wacky–even Shakespeare’s original audience already knew the basic story, it was common knowledge. Plus part of the pleasure of viewing the play nowadays is seeing how it has been interpretted. And I also found it annoying, because he actually asked us not to discuss the play when we met for dinner beforehand, and we obliged him. But I also found it a curious experiment. The result? He mostly was trying to figure out what was going on the whole time, and he managed quite well considering, but I did lean over to tell him that Gloucester was being blinded–the performance was so stylized, if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. I think he’s going to go see it again.
Appropriately, when we left the theater, it was pouring rain. We walked back downtown sans umbrellas–Sarah was the only one who thought to bring one, but she put it away. “Blow, winds, crack your cheeks.” (Doesn’t that sound like a Beavis and Butthead joke?)

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