Friday, March 06, 2020

'King Lear' by William Shakespeare, adapted by Paul Morel

6 March 2020

On Thursday we were at The Place in Bedford to see the Oddbodies production of ‘King Lear’. This is a remarkable one-man version of Shakespeare’s play, adapted and performed by Paul Morel, and directed by John Mowat. In a similar way to Kizzy Dunn’s wonderful ‘Hamlet: Horatio’s Tale’ which saw Horatio recounting the tragedy of his friend (which we saw at the Edinburgh Fringe two years ago, reviewed here in August 2018), this was the story of ‘King Lear’ recounted by the Fool. Paul Morel plays the Fool playing all the other characters. Without any costumes or props he manages to distinguish clearly each of the cast purely through posture and voice. This is a much more light-hearted approach than ‘Hamlet: Horatio’s Tale’: each speech from the play is delivered seriously but he then immediately drops back into the character of the Fool to comment on what was meant and to point out the many oddities of the play. (The Fool himself inexplicably disappears in the final act, perhaps because the same actor in the original production may also have played Cordelia.) The Irish-accented Fool’s contemporary ad-libs and banter with the audience reminded me of one of our Fringe favourites, comedian and actor Owen O’Neill (reviewed here in August 2018 and August 2014). Interspersing the text of the play with the Fool’s analysis of each speech provides a great way to understand the complexities of the plot. It’s like seeing the play with live footnotes – but more entertaining than that sounds! You can get a flavour of the production from this video trailer:

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