‘King Lear’: A jewel in the crown for Ian McKellen
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England: By imagining King Lear’s age as “four score and upward,” Shakespeare gave an end-of-career ring to a taxing role that he could hardly have written for octogenarian actors. After all, Richard Burbage, the star of Shakespeare’s company, the King’s Men, was only 39 when he created the part in 1606. And centuries later, in the 1960s, Paul Scofield was a memorable Lear at just 40.
Yet what makes many regard “King Lear” as Shakespeare’s greatest mature tragedy is its unforgiving portrayal of an old man raging against the gods as his power, sanity and life gradually expire. And since actors too suffer the agues of aging, it is always touching to watch a master of the stage take on the role in the autumn of his career. [More]