Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Loefric Kingsford-Smith and Shakti perform Lear as a duo whilst never explaining whether they are a couple, an ego and alter ego or simply two older men indulging themselves in the art of the play. Framed round the speeches of Lear this is a fascinating journey and one that delivers high quality performances at which to marvel.
The version of Lear that we get is of the speeches delivered by Loefric Kingsford-Smith whilst Shakti performs a physical backdrop as well as many of the other characters. As an exploration of Lear’s mind we are offered no more insight than the language as any further illumination of the play. Having said that if you need to see beyond the poetic beauty of Shakespearean text and have it dumbed down the piece to gain your attention this is not the production for you. The direction of Ira Seidendstein is certainly beguiling.
Both performances were exquisite. There is a joy in sitting for an hour or so and just listening to the depth of experience onstage being equal to the language. At times I did wonder why it was being performed as it was and felt I could have done with a little more context regarding the two characters I was watching but at other times I could have floated off with my eyes closed as these were two skilled performers working their magic.
What did confuse me was the kimonos. Both performers began in one each and over the period of the piece the costume changes were from one colour to another until Lear was all long johns. Whilst I felt it did not necessarily detract from my enjoyment of the piece it made me wonder why? And yes I would like to know.
Aside from the kimonos the set and staging was Fringe basic chic with chairs draped in red and red being a dominant colour throughout. The actors’ clear delight in performance and the level to which they pushed themselves was a welcome addition to the day I was having – not the greatest – and to see a production unashamed in its delight in performing art for the sake of performing art was fantastic.
Unphased by the use of Lear I was, however left wondering by the end, despite the obvious ability onstage just why. It could have been described as self indulgent and at times did come across like a set of acting exercises for audition. There was an air of someone who had been looked over for the role and here was an opportunity to show the world they could be Lear and manage it well. It was here that I disconnected from the performances and found myself wandering in mind though staying in spirit. This disconnection continued towards the end as the lack of explanation challenged me and made me feel less enthralled. I was looking for a reason as to why two men in pyjamas wanted to do Lear. It was irksome because of the quality of what I was witnessing and therefore the structure on which was hung the piece let it down.
If you are familiar with Lear this is worth a punt; if you are an acting student – go and see how it is done; but if you are looking for some form of entry into the world of Lear give it a miss. However if you like kimonos…