By Stal Gayheart and 3 Way Stop
Well the Mechanicals have done it again. And by “it” I mean Shakespeare. This time it’s King Lear, and it’s a rip-roaring, thigh-smacking, willy-whacking wale of time at the Intimate.
Lear, played by Graham Weir, has never been this real. None of the usual OTT Days of Our Lives inspired Shakespearean tragedy nonsense here. This is an actor who grips you by the balls (or whatever you prefer) and doesn’t let go. From the start to the finish he had us enthralled by his richly woven characterization, his Boer-king sound, the madness. We could have watched him for days. But Stal’s already been in trouble with the po-po for that last stalking incident.
Adrian Collins oozes onto stage as Edmund like a beatnik hipster full of the Miami Vice. He skillfully fucks with rhythm and meter, creating a musicality that will both draw you in and repulse you. How to describe his performance? Delicious. Like that bit of Jimmy’s Steakhouse Sauce that coagulates between the top of the bottle and the lid (Extra tangy and a little bit yucky).
Darren Arraujo’s Cornwall is delicate, precise and subtle. Don’t get the wrong idea though. The malice he embodies is deadly and well crafted, present in even the smallest of vocal gestures. He gave us the heebie jeebies.
Nick Pauling plays the fool with finesse. Like Bruce Lee’s kid making out with the Joker.
Shaun Acker’s MontyPythonesque physicality and whimsical vocal affectation adds a solid dash of what-the-fuck to the mix, driving you headfirst into the madness.
Adam Neil got us thinking of hermit crabs, transformation and for a brief moment, Roy from the IT Crowd. Probably the County Roscommon accent.
Kent and Gloucester are strong and full-flavoured as the supportive silverbacks.
As for the blondes… Wowee! Emily Child and Juliana Venter are a couple of evil bitches, yo. Child’s scary lesbo chick is the perfect foil to Venter’s loose legged lady, a pair of Machiavelli mamas who sure can do the dance of death. Deborah Viera’s Cordelia is original, rooted and sensitive. It’s fun to watch her stand up to the baddies.
Some of the little touches we particularly enjoyed were Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as the Burgandies, Adam Neil’s winkie and the sexy costume design, courtesy of Leila Anderson and Alicia McCormick.
During the interval we overheard a lady with too much hair saying, “Jinne vok, maar daai De Lancey has the knack of getting a space to transform.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves. The design elements are sparse, well integrated and support the action by emphasising the mood and atmosphere of the work. A crunchy floor, a weathered deck-chair and one motherfucker of an axe contribute nicely to the post-apocalyptic-broken-down-former-glory-eat-or-be-eaten vibe.
Locales are suggested rather than re-hashed while lighting is at times dim, at times harsh and gritty. The soundscape is surreal: gravel underfoot, doors banging and canned laughter make it a sensory experience you’ll not easily forget.
Between us we’ve seen at least thirteen productions of Lear, so we know how it ends. But we found ourselves hoping against all hope that this time it would be different, and THAT is when we realized that this was some flipping good theatre. We were believing it. We were responding to it, understanding it and sympathizing with a King. Us, a couple of okes from Milnerton and Constantia, living in the good ‘ol R of SA in 2012, were identifying with the wild misfortune of a cuckoo King and his bitch daughters. So how the fuck does that happen? Simple. When the acting is good and the direction is unencumbered by stupid ideas of how Shakespeare “should” be done, the text gets a chance. And that Willy Shakespeare knew how to craft a play.
It’s worth every cent. We give it four Tsars.
Ye Olde Info:
Directed by Guy De Lancey
Costumes by Leila Anderson and Alicia McCormick
With: Graham Weir, Jeroen Kranenburg, Nick Pauling, Adam Neill, Adrian Collins, Adrian Galley, Darren Araujo, Pierre Malherbe, Shaun Acker, Matthew Alves, Kim Kerfoot, Nicholas Dallas, Juliana Venter, Emily Child, Deborah Vieyra, John Skotnes.
At the Intimate Theatre
4 April – 5 May 2012
Running Time 2h30
There will be an interval of 15 minutes
Tickets: R140 or a concession of R100 for Block Bookings of 10 or more, pensioners and students
Bookings call: 021 480 7129