Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lear to Leer

Although I started my Journal column on the North Coast Prep production of King Lear by observing that it is not among the most produced of Shakespeare's major plays, that doesn't mean there aren't both regional and high profile productions--particularly recently, it seems. Ian McKellen headlined a much praised production in England, directed by Trevor Nunn (top photo.) According to the Internet Movie Database, a TV version will be released on DVD. It probably will also be shown on PBS.
But now in the works is a feature film treatment starring Anthony Hopkins as Lear (the photo is from one of his stage productions), with Keira Knightley as Cordelia (terrific actress, and not too heavy to carry!), and Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts as the evil sisters. It's scheduled for release in 2010.
In the meantime, King Lear is the play at the center of season 3 of Slings and Arrows, probably the most thematic of its 3 seasons. As usual, there are some great scenes from Shakespeare, including some amazing Lear from veteran Canadian actor William Hutt. His character does one last Lear while fighting off cancer, and dies shortly after the performance. In real life, Hutt died about a year after these episodes first aired, of leukemia at age 87. This series is available on DVD right now.

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