SONNET 2,333

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I would not have you fall in love with me;
For what would you do then once you are loved?
You’d wrap yourself in everything you see;
A sentiment misleading, via drug.
You’d tell me how I spin your heart and head
And speak of all the things I have you feel
You’d fall under my skin and into bed:
Where lies the full percentage of appeal.
But soon I’d be a tiresome little wretch;
Who’d fade away, too easy to ignore.
Whose old and rhyming soul falls from the edge;
Too passionate a person to endure.

Unless you are in love with poetry;
I beg you: do not fall in love with me.

LMN

SONNET 5,239

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He speaks to me respectfully, t’is true;
With words so fresh and sweet, unlike the rest;
He does not send me images of blue;
His heart be pure, to that I can attest.
He asks about my day, about my life;
With sentiment of pure and truthful care;
He does not ask for things that are unright;
His soul be calm and tender over there.
He looks at me: both eyes are shaped like hearts;
With visions of one future we’re both in;
He does not see me as a sep’rate part;
His mind be seeking starstuff, equal kin.

For years I was a book upon a shelf;
Yet now I read his words and read myself.

LMN

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SPEAK WHAT WE FEEL – REVIEW: KING LEAR – Shakespeare’s Globe, London

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Nancy Meckler’s take on King Lear sure ain’t perfect. Far from it. But it’s certainly inventive, and whilst it’s perhaps over-confident in parts, it offers an innovative (if inconsistent) glance at the ultimate dysfunctional family.

We see the stage, which all the world is. Only here, it’s covered with sheeting, and is to be gradually revealed throughout the performance. Dotted about the blank canvas are a number of pretenders to the throne that is The Globe: painted vagrants having a doss as the real action is happening. Perhaps a nod to current conditions (or, indeed, our shocking attitudes towards them,) I’m not sure this device adds anything positive to the production. Lear is enough of a play on its own without adding extra layers or weaving contemporary subtleties into its fabric.

KING LEAR is getting on a bit, and is contemplating abdication or retirement or foot-putting-up or whatever you wanna call it. He has a massive kingdom, and decides to split it between his kids, Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril. He’s gonna give the biggest slice of Kingdom Pie to whichever daughter has the arse-kissiest response:

….which of you shall we say doth love us most?

GONERIL comes along and kisses said Kingly butt, proclaiming that she’d rather go blind than live without this breathtakingly graceful and honourable man, beyond all manner of so much. He’s just like, SO AWESOME, goddammit, this king of everything. But, so two-faced is she that she declares her love the bringer of speechlessness, despite using wordy insincerity to get her point across. (Shakey, mate: I see what you did there.)

Her sis, REGAN, is made of the same crappy fabric. She declares her love superior to her sibling’s, and is surely the ONLY one who loves him how he deserves to be loved, what with him basically being God ‘n’ all. Lying cow.

But then there’s my girl CORDELIA, who, despite her initial contemplation that she should keep schtum and just get on with loving him, tells him:

“I love your majesty according to my bond; no more, nor less”.

Ouch. Very ouch. I mean – damn if she ain’t sincere, but Kingy, being so far up his own backside ‘n’ all, simply hasn’t got a clue about true love. He gives her a chance (and then another…and another…) to speak again, because she’s his JOY, his blue-eye. But she can’t lie, DAMN her honesty. So, Lear banishes her –very dramatically– from his kingdom, which he then divides between that arse-kissing pair.

Kevin R McNally ain’t half bad. Not half bad at all. Despite certain instances in which he and his character are let down by cheap laughs and even cheaper props, there are moments I swore I was looking at Lear himself; the madness worn on his face like a badge of dishonour. Fragile, commanding, and altogether bonkers, we see McNally delivering a right ol’ smorgasbord of demented torment, tainted only by the aforementioned playing for laughs thing. Yes, we get the irony of certain lines. Yes, the phrasing and timing and delivery is all-important, but for goodness’ sake, let’s not forget that this is a Shakespearean tragedy here. I could’ve done with the whole comedy aspect being taken down a notch or twenty; although it could be said that it was the audience themselves who didn’t understand that dementia and/or mental illness just isn’t funny.

[Consider inserting names of the sister-actors here, but move off the subject ever-so-gracefully because not one of’em floated my proverbial – we don’t wanna go giving scathing reviews, now, do we?]

Lear’s parallel-character, his Tyler Durden, the EARL OF GLOUCESTER, has two kids – Edmund The Bastard (really) who’s a bit of a bastard, really … and Edgar, who is pretty much a stand-up guy. Top bloke. To even up the ILLEGITIMACY 0 LEGITIMACY 1 score, Edmund plots to bump off his legitimately-sheeted brother. Burt Caesar is a strong Gloucester in parts, somewhat amateurish in others, although he was possibly let down by the naffness of metal trolleys and the insufficient eye-gouging that just wasn’t gougey enough. [Dude-Wot-Played Edmund: totally forgettable. Soz.]

Saskia Reeves – what can I say about Saskia Reeves? That woman was on fire. And I mean FI-YUH. The very definition of the term ACTOR, the lass was so skilfully versatile and sob-inducingly restrained, that she controlled her gift, and kept the audience up in the air with it. It would’ve been pretty easy – and obvious – to play Kent-in-a-Dress. But, thankfully, Reeves didn’t go there – instead opting for the refinements only a true artist can display.

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Saskia Reeves as Kent / Photo: Marc Brenner

Joshua James is a stand-out Edgar/Poor Tom, giving his very self to the role whether slathering himself with mud or delivering one of the finest lines ever written, as he summarises everything we’ve just witnessed.

Lear is dead. And we know this, thanks to Edgar:

The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

In line with this guidance, I feel that this production, whilst a worthy effort offering some powerful performances, was let down by a dash of over-ambitious imagery and a peppering of Trying Too Hard. That said, seeing Lear come to life on ANY stage — particularly this one — is always a plus, particularly when he is realised by and reanimated through such an accomplished and perhaps under-rated performer as Kevin R McNally.

LMN

Kevin R McNally as Lear_credit Marc Brenner_

Kevin R. McNally as Lear / Photo: Marc Brenner

 

 

 

Sonnet 4,921

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I could not warm the sadness of his heart
Despite the heat of promises within
And whilst I miss him now that we’re apart
I wonder if he thinks the things I think.
Perhaps he has imaginings like me
Where physical perfection lasts all night;
And maybe there was more for me to see;
There’s definitely more for me to write.
If I could do things diff’rently, I would
Erase my words and tempers ‘cross the miles;
Alas, I only spoke the things I should;
Not leaving room for humour there – or smiles.

If words be feelings, may I never write;
For I shall speak within, and stay polite.

 

Sonnet 436

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The moment words were writ, under she fell
So deep within his magnetising soul
As he was heaven, so was there no hell;
Their stories born anew out of the old.
A breath, a touch, a word, or just a thought
From books resigned to rest upon a shelf
Prevented pages saying what they ought;
Instead, their voices spoke the things they felt.
Two characters the same yet far away;
Their distance until now so unforeseen;
Together they now write themselves a play;
Providing that they speak the things they mean.

No banishment be cast nor fools unheard;
While truth and passion speaks in written word.

LMN

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Sonnet 2,346

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Those eyes of his are eyes I’ve seen before;
His face so soft and careful like his heart;
His words so fixed I read them like a cure;
Such wisdom there that’s waiting to impart.
The smallest ears can listen like they’re grand;
The finest skin may glisten with life’s dew;
As words be writ and edited by hand;
So words be raw, uncooked, yet overdue.
A meeting met, where fleeting feet be put;
A life that cycles over and again;
And from two corners, instinct, and a trust:
If words be books then hearts be Mice and Men.

Dear reader, read this poetry tonight;
While poets, of their passion must they write.

LMN
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SONNET 4,021

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I kept a place inside my heart for him;
A chamber where he stayed and gave me life;
A place where there was never room for sin;
This heart of mine had never loved so right.

The beats of love and poetry dispersed;
Through every single aspect of my soul;
I sang his name and wrote his heart in verse;
But then, as always, newness soon grew old.

For love could never be, nor ever spoke;
I had to take it down from tattered sleeve;
Time chipped away, re-breaking what was broke;
No empathy, nor passion, nor reprieve.

The wasted heart accepts dead poetry;
There never was a place in his for me.

LMN