Sunday, June 5, 2016

King Lear

OK, comedy festival is over. Time for some tragedy.

Circa Theatre is celebrating 40 years with its flagship production of King Lear, running for a month between May and June. Everyone who is anyone in Wellington theatre seems to be in it. We went along for the ride.

First up, a dinner stop at favourite venue Jano Bistro, who put on their usual great fare. I started with a quail, followed by the veal, which included a veal tartare, a slow-cooked croquette and a medium-rare fillet. Nicola had started with the tartiflette – usually provided as a savoury third course, but also available as a starter – followed by the catch of the day. I puddinged on feijoa whilst Nicola had the lemon pie. Nice.

We drove around to park on Wakefield Street as we were up t’other end of town, and arrived in good time to take our seats. The staging was very bare, with just a wall (graffiti’d with the word “Nihil”), a window and a door as the stage set.    

Most of the productions we see at Circa have a limited cast, usually between one and four. But for this they pulled out all the stops and had a full cast of around 20 people, so no need to do the doubling up that often happens in Shakespeare. There were a few faces we recognised as well as the lead, Ray Henwood. Andrew Paterson was there as well, seen in such productions as Isaac’s Eye, Gavin Rutherford, and others. Pretty much anyone who is anyone in the Wellington acting scene.

What to say about the play? Well, they stuck to the script, although the clothing had been updated to modern times, and the soldiers were armed with rifles and pistols, but the language didn't go through the "updating" that some directors do, which was a relief.

As with a lot of Shakespeare, it goes on and on. With an 8 o'clock start, it was nearly eleven by the time we poured out of the theatre. It's at times like this that you consider donating your entire retirement pool into arts funding so that they can buy some comfortable seating. Of course, then you wouldn't be able to afford the tickets...damn. Need to think that one through.

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