Saturday, 7 February 2009

King Lear and Liverpool

So, last time I lamented a missed opportunity from Rupert Goold and his King Lear which was part of Liverpool08, the capital of culture year.

I really strugged to capture everything I saw and how I felt about it with my review of the play. Despite the amazing acting, it was a bit of a mess, all in all. (And as I sometimes think happens, the messy play comes out as a messy review.)

I can't help thinking that a Lear for Liverpool, which took in something from the history and culture of that city, would've been much more interesting, more suitable than the mismatched muddle I saw at the Young Vic.

There's this from the Independent:
Goold's interpretation, we were promised, would "capture the spirit and atmosphere of an extraordinary city"
But also this:
Goold: "Lear is more resistant to the conceptual buggering around that I normally do."
Fair enough. But couldn't we have had something of the city? I mean, Liverpool does provide a pretty rich seam of history, culture, politics and more to mine for "conceptual buggery," doesn't it?

We could have had a Lear about football (much more serious than life or death!), a team divided into three, awful, uninterested daughters taking over the finances of a club; a Lear about business, trade, shipping, slavery; a Lear where the docks stand for the non-existent heath... It could've been about a scouse patriarch in clubland, if you want to make it really modern, the sons-in-law determined to fight for their piece of a club and drug culture, ready to extend petty gangster injuries on those in opposition to them.

I don't know. Perhaps all that sounds too preposterous. I just wish it didn't feel like Goold really wasted an opportunity; and totally failed to get to know the city, the culture, the history and the people the play was, basically, performed for in 2008.

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