When you attend high school in Grong its very normal to attend at a play in the first year. Going to the theatre isn’t very popular among students and for most of them this is a once in a lifetime experience. My class went to see “King Lear”, written by William Shakespeare.
The play was staged at “Trøndelag Teater” in Trondheim and had a total length of approximately three hours. It was divided into two parts, the first one being considerably longer than the other. My experience with Shakespeare is limited to say the least. I’ve been meaning to read some of his work but somehow things got in the way and my ambition was crushed (not that I was particularly saddened by that fact). I’ve of course watched “Romeo&Juliet”, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, and have also watched the better part of “The Merchant from Venice”, starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons, and I liked them both in a very peculiar way. The plot and problems seemed o.k. enough but nothing that can be described as groundbreaking today. In the 16th century I’m sure that people were shaking their heads in admiration and what not and that it’s Shakespeare who has been copied – not the other way around, but for me I it did not come as something new. What I did love was the dialogue and his beautiful prose. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered. His words are like good candy – you always take pause and linger with their smell and taste.
The same goes for “King Lear”. The plot and problems didn’t interest me much, but the dialogue was impeccable. I’ve only attended two adult plays beforehand, and I therefore lack the experience with the old fashioned type of storytelling. This resulted in me having to concentrate very hard on divining the meaning behind the colourful language and at the same time cope with plot-twists that seemed more often than not very irrational for me as a modern teenager.
“King Lear” is set in 16th century (I presume) and revolves around the consequences of King Lear’s decision to divide his country into three parts – one for each daughter. The only thing he want’s in return is the title of “king” and the right to free household for him and his hundred men. This sounds quite okay, if not a little illogical, but problems swiftly arise. King Lear demands that the the daughter who loves him the most shall get more land the others, and thus he starts a lying contest between the siblings. The two oldest ones are greedy and not true of heart and they tell him that they love him and nothing else, but he youngest daughter, and the one closest to King Lear’s heart, cannot partake in such sins and tells him only the truth; that she loves him as much as duty commands. King Lear, who is old but not yet wise, gets furious and dismisses all kinship to the daughter and splits the country in two.
But therin lies the rub. The two daughters dislikes the way King Lear and his men behaves and decides to betray him in the foulest ways. The theme of this play is treason and betrayal – and it was wonderfully conveyed and portrayed. The actors were good and I understood what was happening all the time, but what I lacked was commitment and connection with the main characther, King Lear. I left the theatre with mixed emotions and looking back I must admit that “King Lear” did not live up to my expectations. I’m recommending it, ’cause I feel that I’m too young to fully understand it. One thing is for sure; this was not the last time I went to the theatre