See what happens, I have a theatre-free week and this blog starts the year with complete radio silence. I wasn't joking about needing to get a life... Don't worry, normal service will resume by the end of this week, I've got a dozen trips already planned for the rest of January. Meanwhile theatre's started cropping up in my dreams, with a demented King Lear
that hopefully won't be recreated by anyone in real life anytime soon. Yes, of all plays it's not like I'm short of King Lear
productions at the moment, having been to one a couple of weeks ago
and with another due in a month's time. Like the Jacobi Lear, this seemed to be taking place at the Donmar Warehouse, or at least a similar, intimate thrust stage. There didn't seem to be a circle though, just a stalls and I was in the front row at the side, together with vanessaw. Vanessa's actually sworn off any more King Lears in real life but her being there is probably the least of our worries.
Where the real Donmar production was very pared-down, this version was insanely elaborate. Things regularly came to a complete halt while the backstage crew tried to line up the next big coup - at one point I could see a coach and horses waiting to come on, except they never did. Instead a flock of sheep were brought on and the front row basically turned into a petting zoo as everyone patted the sheep. I was slightly disconcerted and said to the person sitting next to me (who wasn't Vanessa any more) that the sheep had a patronising expression on their faces as if they felt sorry for the humans who weren't as smart as them. While watching the scene (which involved one of the sheep being run over in the street, except now it was a dog) I realised that this non-Vanessa person on my right had his arm around me, he was a very cute young guy but I definitely didn't know him. I didn't mind though, obviously. Perhaps due to the constant stopping and starting the audience were very restless and although I was always in the same bank of seating I sometimes found myself on the far left of the front row, with a great view, and sometimes on the right with a restricted view; and then sometimes I was in the second row.
Except for one point when I was actually sitting on stage, which at this point had become a giant bed. There were a man and woman doing a scene on the bed, the man was cute and wearing only a towel. From my vantage point I could see up the towel and I remember thinking I had my first scrolling nudity alert of the year there. I had no idea how I'd actually winded up on stage but maybe it was related to what happened next, which was about half a dozen more naked men (one of whom was Very Brave To Let It Be Seen In Public if you know what I mean) arrived on stage and each picked someone out of the front row to come onto the bed and dance with them.
During another of the unscheduled breaks for massive set changes, Vanessa had gone off somewhere, possibly backstage, while I went with the young guy and his friend up to a window, because the auditorium had windows now. As we looked out he was once again being very tactile and hugging me, and he seemed to be getting A Bit Excited. Back in our seats in the second row this time, yet another audience member said he wondered if it was finished - I said it had only been on for two and a half hours so there was at least half an hour more to go. While I have no idea who the dream-Lear was, I know that, just in case things weren't odd enough yet, Ruby Wax was Goneril. And Ulrika Jonsson was Desdemona, who isn't even in that play, but what do you expect if you cast a permanently pregnant ex-weathergirl? Maybe the confusion with Othello is where the scene on the bed came from, except the guy in the towel was definitely white. Ulrika must have been the last straw so I
In a weird and sad coincidence, having dreamed about seeing King Lear
, I then got a text from her this morning saying that Pete Postlethwaite, whom we'd seen in the title role two years ago
, had died.