Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Clear on Lear

King Lear is an un-actable part that actors need to play. If playing Hamlet defines a classical actor's career, then playing Lear is the natural challenge to cap that career. Lots of actors have done both. Laurence Olivier made the first modern film of Hamlet and probably still the most famous, though he may have been a bit old for the part by then. (Though he looks a little like 1980s Sting in that photo.) He did his only King Lear for television in 1983. He was judged a bit too old and weak for it by then, though with brilliant moments. I don't know about that, but it's still available and there's a lot to like and learn in his performance. John Geilgud played both parts several times on the stage--he did his first of four Lears while in his 20s. He was happy with only one of them.

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