Well, what a welcome reprise for Bard in the Botanics.
A few weeks after the end of its summer programme in the park, the company is back with a wonderful Scottish premiere of Lear’s Fool.
A small cast of BITB favourites returns for a short run of performances in the Kibble Palace glasshouse.
For those not familiar with Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, no fear. David Henry Wilson’s one-act play is a self-contained, self-imagined work of genius, a sequel, or prequel, or however you want to look at it.
Handy programme notes provide a synopsis of all you need to now about the main play.
Wilson’s shoot-off, explores the question that has occupied audiences for centuries: what ever became of Lear’s Fool?
In Shakespeare, the Fool disappears from the play when Lear and his madness are in full flow.
We hear nothing about them until the very end, when Lear mentions their fate in just six words.
This short play explores what might have happened to the Fool since the parting, and how the fates of Lear and his loyal and wronged daughter Cordelia might have played out.
A few weeks after the end of its summer programme in the park, the company is back for a few nights with a wonderful Scottish premier of Lear’s Fool.
The action takes place in a prison cell in Dover, a location played beautifully under the atmospheric gloom of the Kibble’s rounded glass.
For those who haven’t seen theatre in the glasshouse, the stage is set out along the walkway that links the entrance building to the main rotunda.
The actors are at your feet and at some points sitting right next to you.
Lear’s Fool is funny and moving, cleverly thought out, and brilliantly presented by BITB.
There are some fantastic performances. Award-winning actor Nicole Cooper (Medea, Hamlet, Coriolanus) is spell-binding as The Fool and Johnny Panchaud’s presence is menacing as The Captain.
Finlay McLean as Lear (Richard II, Queen Lear, Henry V); Stephanie McGregor as Cordelia (Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and Utterson in Jekyll & Hyde); and Sam Stopford as John (Prince Hal in Henry IV, Edward Hyde in Jekyll & Hyde) are all first-class.
In true Shakespearean fashion, there are jokes and tears, twists and turns, and heart-wrenching tragedy.
The timeline is played out over a few hours as the English army fights off a French invasion.
The end is disturbing and grim, but beautifully choreographed.
Three deaths in three minutes, Bill would have approved.
After a night of deadly drama, a perambulation in the glasshouse will never seem quite the same again.