So, I guess the new run of "King Lear" at BAM this month technically falls into the theater category. But I think since it's Shakespeare, we can certainly bend the rules and include it as a literary event. Especially since Ladyton managed to secure herself some tickets and is aching to write about it.
First off, the venue. The BAM Harvey Theater is lovely - although when you're running late and unsure of where to go, you do get a bit frustrated that it's not by the spinning letters sign at the main BAM building. I mean, sure, they provide directions when you buy the tickets, but come on, who looks at those? But, once we arrived, we were efficiently sent up to our seats up in the gallery to sit. A little word about the gallery - it's TERRIFYING. For those of you familiar with sitting up high in a theater or at a baseball game, I'm sure you recall that slight vertigo feeling of looking at the steep rows of seats before you - the irrational fear that if you leaned slightly forward, you would somehow sail straight down over them to an untimely death. No? Perhaps that's just me. Anyway, Harvey had that. Only worse. The seats, you see, were not normal theater seats. They were glorified bar stools. Oh sure, they had backs and arm rests, but they were narrow, hard, and high off the ground. Which, while optimal for viewing the stage, horrific for the nerves. Thankfully the seats were bolted in place, or I would have spent the whole show in fear of tipping over.
Now, I had read the play before, but never had the pleasure of seeing it on stage. Despite the fact that it was a bit lengthy (we arrived at 7:30 and left at 11:15), it was magnificent. And - for you non-theater folks (which I very much am) - there were a couple other familiar faces as well. The chick from "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" (come on, you watched it too) was Cordelia, and that dude from Titanic (you know, the one that sneaks into a life boat like the coward that he is) plays the Lord of Kent. Excellent. Although, I did have a hard time buying Kent's loyalty and bravery. I kept waiting for him to be like, ho, hum, Lear's insane. Nothing I can do. Might as well jump in a boat to some nicer kingdom. Other than that, a whole bunch of people who are probably famous Shakespearian actors, but that was lost on me. One guy had been in an episode of HBO's Rome, a show I really liked, so kudos to him.
First of all, I love Sir Ian McKellen. Love him. If he weren't gay and a bit too senior for me, I would marry him in a heartbeat. And this only made me love him more. I had to resist the urge to throw myself over the balcony into his arms. He transformed himself from the self-assured, mighty Magneto and the all-powerful Gandalf into an old man who seemed to disintegrate before the audience's eyes. The shaky hands, the hunched walk; the moments of complete innocence in his madness or utter despair in sanity - I found myself worried that McKellen himself was going to keel over and die. I fell in love with him the first time I saw "Gods & Monsters," and he hasn't let me down since.
Just one more aspect in which McKellen truly awe-inspiring. When he dropped trou. I had read that there was a pants dropping scene, but for some reason, I didn't put it together that we were talking full frontal. And at first thought, ew, who wants to see Lear naked? But, after the initial shock of seeing Gandalf's penis, a new shock set in - Sir Ian is hung. And I was in the next to last row people.
Well done, good sir.