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Ian McKellen Tackles King Lear

March 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment · Culture, Doctor Who, LGBT, News, Performance, Theater

Ian McKellenIan McKellen, profiled in The Observer, is finally ready to take on the role of a lifetime: King Lear.

McKellen and Trevor Nunn, who have known each other since they were at Cambridge together in the 1960s, have been planning this production for a long time. ‘McKellen has said that for him, Trevor Nunn is the great director of Shakespeare, so it feels like the fulfilment of a long-held dream for them both,’ Billington says. Is he surprised how long it has taken? ‘It’s a balancing act. You can’t play it until you’re old enough. But if you leave it too late, you won’t have the power to get through it. I should think now is about right.’

… For his part, McKellen has said that he has been in Lear often enough, most memorably as Kent to Brian Cox’s Lear in the 1990 Deborah Warner production, to know how tricky it is. ‘Unless each of the central characters is well cast and played, the play loses its special majesty, regardless of the performance by Lear himself,’ he has said. ‘It is not a solo part.’ Presumably, with Frances Barber as Goneril, William Gaunt as Gloucester and Sylvester McCoy as the fool, he feels the right cast is in place.

Sylvester McCoy? Wow, there’s even a Doctor Who tie-in!

Of course, no matter how serious a role he may be taking on, Sir Ian always finds a way to make me giggle:

… [on his Web site, mckellen.com] he responds to rumours, both silly and true (“I have never been known to snore! Ask whoever you can find.”)

McKellen will be bringing his Lear to the midwest, in a double bill with “The Seagull” at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, October 5-14 according to McKellen.com. That might just be enough to get me thinking about a visit to the twin cities.


One Comment so far ↓

  • Malcolm

    Well, you’d have a place to stay. Hell we’d even spring for your ticket! (And, of course, accompany you.)