Sunday, October 14, 2018

Quality TV

Photo: Ed Miller
A few days ago I caught up with Amazon Prime Video's King Lear. There is such a plethora of junk cluttering the airwaves nowadays that it was a breath of fresh air to watch a quality production of a true classic. The stellar cast, lead by Anthony Hopkins as Lear, was outstanding.

Of course, I could watch Anthony Hopkins read the newspaper for an hour and be fascinated; he's just one of my favorite actors. But Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, and Florence Pugh are all captivating in their daughter roles, and the supporting players are excellent as well. Lear is a Shakespearean tragedy, so you know the final scene will be littered with dead bodies, as was the bard's treasured technique. But getting there is likely to hold your attention.

The play has been abridged in this production, so it moves swiftly and with lively action. Perhaps due to this compression, the story can get confusing at times, especially if you haven't read the play. In that case, it might be worth checking some online Cliffs notes--if for nothing else than to prepare you for the eye-gouging scene (truly gruesome, and worthy of any modern slasher movie). In addition to shortening the script, director Richard Eyre has set the action in modern Britain. I've seen this updating done with other Shakespearean plays and, to my surprise, have found that I enjoy the innovative approach.

People who claim to "not get" Shakespeare often don't realize that we quote him every day. In King Lear alone, you'll hear about coming full circle and putting the cart before the horse. All that modern relevancy aside, if you're a fan of great acting in a time-honored story, check out King Lear on Amazon. 'Tis worth watching.