Review: King Lear, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford

“Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowl”

In something of a coup, Guildford Shakespeare Company’s leading man for their production of King Lear is none other than Brian Blessed. And with his daughter Rosalind playing Goneril too. The play’s opening this week was a little overshadowed by the actor’s collapse during the final preview performance, but with the redoubtable resilience we have come to expect from this totemic figure (and perhaps unfairly so, he is 78 after all), he continued with the show after a 20 minute break. So three days later, it was with a little trepidation that we took our seats in the Holy Trinity Church in Guildford (cushion recommended!).

But we needn’t have worried, Brian Blessed giving his King Lear was exactly how you’d imagine Brian Blessed giving his King Lear would be. For better and for worse. There’s a real thrill in seeing him throw himself so fully into the cantankerous cruelty and wild abandon that characterises Lear’s breakdown – every howl, headshake and handwring is vastly exaggerated and is so unmistakeably him. But this comes at the loss of much subtlety, if not wailing he’s whispering with inbetween, which ultimately becomes a little exhausting whilst remaining trashily enjoyable. I mean look at the poster, what you want is Brian Blessed doing exactly what Brian Blessed does. Continue reading “Review: King Lear, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford”

Review: Far From The Madding Crowd, ETT via Digital Theatre

“I shall do one thing in this life. That is love you, long for you and keep wanting you ’til I die”

A couple of weeks ago, Digital Theatre ran a January sale promotion which meant that you could get their plays for well under a fiver, which reminded me I had previously downloaded English Touring Theatre’s production of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd but never quite got round to watching it. I’ve previously reviewed The Comedy Of Errors which was highly enjoyable and so I thought Digital Theatre was worth another try, especially since I’d paid for this one! This particular production was recorded at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud theatre on November 15th 2008

Having inherited her father’s farm, a spirited and feisty young woman – Bathsheba Everdene, finds herself playing mistress in a man’s world as she is determined to do things her way and her impetuous nature sometimes gets the better of her. She is pursued by three would-be lovers: the constant shepherd, Gabriel Oak; the obsessive landowner, William Boldwood and the reckless Sergeant Troy and as this is Hardy, real tragedy is never far round the corner. Continue reading “Review: Far From The Madding Crowd, ETT via Digital Theatre”