2016 marks Creation’s 20th birthday and we’ve kicked off the celebrations with King Lear in the beautiful Norrington Room at Blackwell’s Bookshop.
King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s great kings and a renowned part to play. We thought we’d have a chat with Max, our very own Lear, to find out a bit more about what it’s like to play him.
So King Lear, that’s a pretty massive part to take on, how have you been finding it?
In this production everyone has a massive task. I’m playing Lear but Natasha, Michael, Lucy and Morgan are playing multiple roles. Goneril and Regan simultaneously – now that’s what I call a challenge. The fact is we are a very happy family of actors led by a wonderfully creative, positive and down to earth director. In that kind of environment the process becomes a lot less stressful.
Does such a tense subject make for a tense atmosphere in rehearsals?
We rehearsed the first week at a pub in East London. I was sitting in a side room, having a cup of tea as gales of laughter echoed through the walls. I thought there must be some kind of party happening and then realised the laughter was coming from our rehearsal room. So, tense atmosphere? No. Our director has a great sense of humour and knows that a rehearsal room that has a place for laughter is likely to be a creative one.
What are your impressions of other versions of Lear you’ve seen, have they influenced your take on it?
I have banished from my mind all productions I have seen. Of course, I can’t completely banish the production I was in with Richard Briers as Lear, but fortunately that was twenty six years ago, so I can’t really remember that much about it. What I do remember is Richard breaking his leg, midway through rehearsals. He turned up the next day with a leg in plaster, which he was still wearing on opening night. That’s what I call a trooper.
What’s it like to have everyone in the cast playing multiple roles around you?
In addition to playing Lear, I am playing First Servant. That means I have two death scenes. First Servant dies heroically trying to save Gloucester’s second eye. Doesn’t that count as multi-roling? But more seriously, I think the multiple roles are highly effective and add to Charlotte’s interpretation of the play on a number of levels. From Lear’s point of view, it adds to his spiralling disorientation.
How do you feel about performing in Blackwells?
It’s an amazing space, an arena of bookshelves, crammed with ideas, knowledge, experience, imagination…. When I mentioned to various friends in London the location of the show, they were really excited. I hadn’t realised that Blackwell’s in Oxford was so many people’s favourite bookshop.
What next after Lear?
My overriding priority is the staging of a production of a little play called The Magic Apple, which I have written for my son Brandan and his friends!
There are plenty of chances to catch the performance, which runs until 24 March. To book your tickets, visit www.creationtheatre.co.uk or give our Box Office a call on 01865 766266.