Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No cause

As I am wont to do when nursing a broken heart, last night I opted to watch something far more tragic than my own pathetic love life.  Boy howdy, did I pull that off: I found the Trevor Nunn production of King Lear, starring Ian McKellen, in my Netflix.  Since I had the evening open – it requires a real time investment – I queued it up, mixed myself a bourbon and ginger, and pressed 'play'.


I have never, ever in my life cried as hard at a film as I did while watching King Lear.  I'm not really a weepy film watcher.  The problem here is that, while King Lear certainly took my mind off the girl who broke up with me, it brought up other, much more painful issues.  Anyone who has read the play can guess about those.  I already knew the play reasonably well, having studied it closely in college, and I've seen the Peter Brook film with Paul Scofield.*  That version looks pretty cool, but left me cold.  This one, though, punched me right in the guts.  I was doing all right until Act IV Scene 7. 

Be your tears wet? yes, 'faith. I pray, weep not:
If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
I know you do not love me; for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:
You have some cause, they have not.
 No cause, no cause.
And I just about dissolved.  I couldn't even see the screen for a bit.  There's just no comparison between reading Shakespeare and hearing/seeing it performed.  If I ever work up the courage to see King Lear live, I'm going to bring my own pack of tissues, and hope that I'm not the only blubberer in the theater.

*Side note: man, that was an awesome Shakespeare class.  I am eternally grateful that I got to take that course. 


  1. I just requested it. Thanks for the recommendation. I need me some distracting tragedy, though for no reason so good as yours...

  2. Aww, pal. I'm sorry. Be good to yourself, and then back in the saddle you go!

  3. Aw, man, Lear always does that to me --- I teared up every time we discussed it in my Shakespeare class, even when I went and re-read it on my own one summer ---- and I was watching some documentary about acting in general and they played John Gielgud reading a scene with, I think, his daughter (only the scene was filmed stand alone, as he was too old by this point to do a production) and I was just *weeping* for hours afterward. Whoof indeed.

    For some reason I tend to put in _The English Patient_ when I need an excuse for a good cry.

  4. "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods -- they kill us for their sport."

    That's one of my favorite lines in Shakespeare, and it comes right out of Gloucester's mouth. When I encountered King Lear in my first Shakespeare class, I lost it several times. I'd never read anything like it. (I mean, I'd read some Shakespeare, but basically just the ol' standbys from high school.) I saw the Nunn version when it first came out and just loved it. McKellen is more than amazing in that role. He's like a god.

    When times are hard, some people turn to religion. I turn to Shakespeare. There's nothing like reading Hamlet when your dad has just died. I actually understood Hamlet's angst for the first time when I was traveling home from my father's funeral and reading Hamlet on the plane back to California. The experience was horrible and wonderful -- the kind of experience that Aristotle promises us in The Poetics. Catharsis? Check. Pity and fear? Check, check.

    Recently, in my own individual sorrows, I've turned to Antony and Cleopatra. Just sections of it, as my list of things to do only seems to multiply these days. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, A&C is a mature love tragedy, and boy, it's a whopper. They kill themselves, though. So maybe don't read to the end if you decide to pick it up. ;)

    And last but not least -- it's none of my business, but if you want to talk about it, feel free to write me. At any rate -- I'm really sorry.

  5. Favorite line from Antony and Cleopatra (out of context, sure, but still a whopper):

    "I'll wrestle with you in my strength of love:
    Look, here I have you; thus I let you go."