I persuaded Greg and Bryan to accompany me to a walkaround performance of King Lear at Wandlebury Country Park.
After a very showery day we were treated to a beautiful midsummer’s evening. The cast of seven made wonderful use of space and all inhabited their roles with convincing and physical madness and tragedy. They took turns to invite us to accompany them to the next setting.
The programme says:
The play will not be performed in anything like its entirety, nor will each role be played by any particular actor. Instead we’ve imagined a group of people who, perhaps as a result of some social or personal trauma, are attempting a reenactment of a tragedy the details of which they can barely remember. It is full of gaps, jumps, repetitions, amnesias and improvisations.
This was very true. Effective up to a point, but I felt there was too little narrative thread left for the audience to hang onto.
None-the-less there were some spine-tingling set pieces making perfect use of various settings in the park. Two stand out: the three women demanding the barrenness of Cordelia whilst slowly walking backwards through the gloomy ring fort ditch; and the ensemble wandering sightlessly through a glade of young birches as they narrate the blinding of Gloucester.
Narrative aside the cumulative effect was a harrowing sense of loss, madness and grief. An evening well – if strangely – spent.