"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Galdalf's production of King Lear was great, except that I'm pissed off that the fool got hung (wth?!) just before Act III Scene VII (after which there was the intermission), they fire guns and use other anachronistic props like a bath robe and a wheelchair (they're probably shared with Seagull - I'll find out Monday), Galdalf's moans when he carries out Cordelia's body put me in the mind of "this girl is too heavy for an old man like me to carry very far" and we don't see Gandalf's staff!

I also suspect they cut some parts (for example I didn't notice this delicious exchange), added others (definitely the hanging of the Fool) and simplified some of the archaic English, but I can't be sure, having but read the text only once (and being unsure whether they used the Quarto variation, the Folio variation or some combination thereof). Frigid Girl's masterful command of the play will be used to critique my omissions.

Watching the play performed really adds a dimension that just reading the text cannot provide (the reverse is of course also true), not least because of the rude gestures and noises. A live performance also has merits over a recording, a point which even those who claim being at concerts and listening to CDs provide the same experience would probably concede.

A final thought before I retire, just about having passed the midpoint of these few busy days - in Shakespeare's day theatre such as this was not an exclusively highbrow activity, with commonfolk and aristocrats alike enjoying the delights of the theatre. So either the plays can be enjoyed on more than one level (crude remarks and vaginal references as well as literary symbolism and other thingamajigs) or people nowadays are dumber than they used to be despite (or because of, some snobs might assert) the popularisation of mass education. I'd draw a parallel with Opera, but I can't remember what MFM said about how opera didn't exactly start off as mass entertainment and become glorified as high culture today so I won't.

[Addendum: Oh, and it was much much better than the last time I saw (a version of) King Lear - Ong Keng Sen's atrocious 1999 (?) production which had everyone speaking in a language other than English and was painful (for me) to sit through. I'm not sure if I've recovered from the trauma of that. Everyone gushes about the rich symbolism in the way Asian cultures were referenced, but my favourite foil for that is this bit:

"Many playgoers inevitably saw pointers to national and class conflicts in the tensions between the Beijing opera performer's queen, the Noh actor's Old Man and the Indonesian-inspired Retainer. But playwright Kishida Rio disavows such meanings. "I was very shocked," the Japanese writer recounts, when a Hong Kong journalist asked about political intentions in casting of a Japanese as the Old Man and a Chinese as the daughter who kills him. "I never thought about such implications."" (emphasis mine)

More detailed review, focusing on the points people usually focus on in a reivew.]
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