Were I unfortunate enough to meet Ms. Bailey I would have one question for her. No, no, not on her analysis of the Shakespearean metaphysics in the play assuming, and it's a big assumption, that she has one, but a far simpler query: if one was minded to indulge in a bit of buggery would one choose to indulge it inside a telephone box? I ask because Act I scene ii opens with an old-fashioned telephone box descending on cables from above into which hurries a young man swiftly followed by Edmund, a principal villain in the play, who proceeds to bugger the other man. Some money changes hands and the young man concerned must have thought it was the easiest money he ever earned because Edmund's er, staying powers were, shall we say, fleeting! It was the quickest shag I have ever seen and I thought I held the world record!
But what, I hear you mutter through clenched teeth, has this to do with King Lear? And that was exactly what I was asking myself through my clenched teeth as I sat there yesterday watching this unbelievably stupid, pig-ignorant production. Not only was it the absolutely worst production of King Lear that I have ever seen on stage or on screen, it was the worst production of anything I have ever seen before! Set, for no apparent reason, in London's East End gangland of the 1950s/'60s, I would rather sit through a thousand episodes of the ghastly TV series EastEnders than watch five minutes of this wanton destruction of a truly great play.
The very essence of a Shakespearean tragic hero is that no matter how he comes across at the beginning, by the end you must feel tremendous pity for him despite his myriad faults and weaknesses. Well, I certainly felt sorry for David Haig who was playing Lear. Probably this was his one and only chance to play the greatest of all roles ever written - yes, including that gloomy Dane! Unfortunately for him he drew a short straw and ended up with Ms. Bailey who, on the basis of this travesty of production, could not direct traffic!
Had Hamlet's dead Dad seen this farce he would have been justified in howling, "Oh, Hamlet, what a falling off was there". I should say so! It looked and sounded as though it had fallen off a real cliff, not the imaginary one old, blind Gloucester is tricked into believing is before him. If you have already bought tickets for this show, give them to an enemy!
Additional: I notice from the links below that there are two reviews from the national press. I haven't read them yet but I shall do and I will be fascinated to see what they made of it.
Additional 2: Well, I've just read them and it is obvious that Charles Spencer should have gone to SpecSavers where they would have provided him with both specs and a hearing aid. The man is a purblind buffoon! Michael Billington shifts about uneasily but cannot bring himself to be really rude.