by William Shakespeare translated by Yurka Haurak adapted by Nicolai Khalezin.
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT To 28 September 2013.
2pm 24, 26, 28 Sept.
7.30pm 25, 27 Sept.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 September.
Turbulent nature in visceral production.
It’s more backyard than court as Belarus Free Theatre’s King Lear opens. Metal buckets, wheelchaired Gloucester, Kent flitting as if legless on a trolley (a limitation disappearing outside the court). People here are dressed for work.
Except Lear’s daughters, gentle-seeming maidens in pretty dresses, auditioning for their inheritance with peasant song and dance. This is a physical, sexy, violent, impulsive production, which Belarus Free Theatre impel with energy and speed.
Shakespeare in a language you don’t understand means seeing Shakespeare. When Lear thrashes Goneril’s fur-coat on the floor, as his daughter watches with deliberate patience, it fits his “O reason not the need” – but it’s impossible to know if that’s being spoken (there are only generalised surtitles)
But it’s clear the gorgeous Goneril and Regan, their power gained, are sophisticated women. In fur-coats they join the impulsive violence, suddenly leaning-in and gobbling Gloucester’s eyes. No preparation, no consideration; this is a world of arbitrary attack. And violent nature, when Lear, on the heath, strides through a wet, waving tarpaulin.
Knowing this company is harassed, imprisoned and tortured back home – one by one, arbitrarily, as audiences flocking to secret performances in private houses risk being – it’s easy to assume that’s all their shows are ever about.
Sometimes it seems evident. Kent is unusually aggressive in attacking Oswald. When help comes, Kent’s stocks are created from brollies, locking him swiftly in a bureaucracy of umbrellas. Figures under attack tend to end-up distorted, legs in air.
Cordelia, who early asserted independence by replacing pretty folk dancing with an air-guitar, is hanged on stage, mimetically, body arching in agony and writhing into semi-nakedness – there’s plenty of nakedness, visualising Shakespeare’s mood.
Contrasting court scenes frame the action. At first, Aleh Sidorchyk’s Lear enters in long white hair, bent over, supported by a trolley before leaping up youthfully, laughing at his joke. Courtiers, seated in rows, stand and laugh sycophantically.
Finally, Lear enters enfeebled, talking almost inaudibly to Cordelia, while all sit silent. The suitcase of earth he’d brought at first and ladled out to his daughters, is empty. Unlike Vladimir Shcherban’s vital, intense production.
King Lear: Aleh Sidorchyk.
Goneril: Yana Rusakevich.
Regan: Maryna Yurevich.
Cordelia: Viktoria Biran.
Duke of Albany: Kiryl Kanstantsinau.
Duke of Cornwall: Andrei Urazau.
Earl of Kent: Dzianis Tarasenka.
Earl of Gloucester: Pavel Radak-Haradnitski.
Edgar/Duke of Burgundy: Siarhei Kvachonak.
Edmund/King of France: Aliaksei Naranovich.
King of France/Announcer: Nastassia Shcherbak.
Oswald: Yuliya Shauchuk.
Fool: Pavel Arkelian.
Director/Designer: Vladimir Shcherban.
Music: Pavel Arkelian.
Costume: Vladmir Shcherban, Aliaksey Shyrnevich, Natalia Kaliada.
Assistant director: Svetlana Sugako.