Kean

Jun. 13th, 2007 10:43 pm
mirrorshard: (The Rose Theatre)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
Antony Sher in a play by Jean Paul Sartre, adapted from the original by Alexandre Dumas, directed by Adrian Noble, as Edmund Kean. This is love.

For those of you not familiar with Kean, he was one of the first of the great Regency actors, and the first to play Shylock straight rather than as a comic buffoon in a red wig and a huge hooked putty nose. His mainstay role was Richard III, such a lovely meaty tragic storming evil role for him.

Hazlitt and Fanny Kemble were great fans, and Coleridge said that to see Kean act was 'like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning'. His performance as Sir Giles Overreach in Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1816 - annoyingly, not on Gutenberg. Wikipedia) sent Lord Byron into convulsions.

He was also incredibly insecure, a drunkard and a womanizer - the play works on this a lot, though I have to say I didn't find the drunkenness more than very lightly touched on.

Kean was one of my late godfather Philip Ormond's obsessions - he'd gathered an amazingly huge collection of Kean memorabilia, including a lock of his hair, and done a great deal of research. We're looking into digitizing it, but that's going to be horribly expensive. Let's hope there are grants available.
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