Lee Soon-jae’s oldest ‘King Lear’ was faithful to the original, but—…
Lear, an old king who rules the kingdom of Britain, wants to divide his power and territory among his three daughters. He calls them together and asks them how much they love him. Goneril, the oldest, and Regan, the second, give false assurances and receive one-third of the kingdom. Only Cordelia, the youngest and most favored daughter, answers honestly, which enrages King Lear. He gives Cordelia’s share to Goneril and Regan and banishes her. He also banishes the loyal Earl of Kent, who speaks directly to him. But now that Goneril and Regan have received their desired inheritance, they turn their backs on King Lear and cast him out. King Lear wanders in the wilderness in a storm, filled with bitter regret and despair.
Lee Sun-jae (88), South Korea’s oldest active actor, returns to Shakespeare’s original play King Lear. It features the largest and most diverse human cast in Shakespeare’s works. This is the second performance of “King Lear” starring Lee Soon-jae, following his performance at the Seoul Arts Center in 2021. After the performance, the Gwanak Theater Company plans to apply to the Guinness Book of World Records to recognize Lee as the world’s oldest King Lear.
The performance will last 200 minutes. It was staged without any adaptation or compression of Shakespeare’s original play. It is a rare opportunity to see King Lear in its original form. At a press conference on the 10th of last month, Lee Soon-jae said, “Shakespeare’s works have a rhythm, a mixture of monologue and verse. The lines are literary and philosophical, and contain metaphors and symbols. If you cut these out, you can only tell a story, but you cannot properly convey the literary essence of Shakespeare,” Lee said.
To capture the dreadlocks of Shakespeare’s poetic language, actors must first memorize a vast amount of dialogue. King Lear, in particular, has a killer line count. In the first performance on the first day, which was attended by reporters, some actors먹튀검증, including Lee Sun-jae, often made mistakes in their lines. The acoustics were not clear enough to hear the lines properly, and Lee’s husky voice was especially muffled. I also felt that the scale of the production and music could not fill the large stage. However, considering the preview period (1-2 days), there is still room for improvement in the remaining performances.
Actor Lee Sun-jae (far left) performs King Lear in the rehearsal room. Yeonwoo Stage-Courtesy of ATR
Actor Choi Jong-ryul (far left) plays the Earl of Gloucester in the play “King Lear” in the rehearsal room. Courtesy of Yeonwoo Stage-ATR
The role of King Lear requires physical strength and concentration to hold the center of the play and carry it through to the end. Lee shows a variety of facial expressions as King Lear moves from absolute monarch to distraught old man. Choi Joong-ryul as the Earl of Gloucester also delivers a poignant performance as he loses both his eyes to a lie. In addition to Lee Soon-jae and Choi Joong-ryul, the cast of Regan, Seo Song-hee, Duke of Cornwall, Yeom In-seop, Earl of Kent, Park Yong-soo, and Kim In-soo as Oswald remain the same as they were two years ago. Ji Joo-yeon switched from Goneril to Cordelia and Park Jae-min from Edgar to Edmund. Kwon Minjoong is new to the role of Goneril.
<King Lear is considered one of Shakespeare’s “four great tragedies,” but it is not always tragic. There are scenes where the margins of the original play are used as a witty comedy, such as the scene where Regan and Goneril affectionately hold hands when King Lear yells at Regan, “Are you going to hold hands with Goneril?”. The scene where King Lear curses and curses his two daughters with all kinds of metaphors, even though it was faithful to the original, was received as ridiculous, and many audiences burst out laughing. As times change, so do sensibilities.
The play is playing at LG Arts Center Seoul in Gangseo-gu, Seoul, until the 18th. Tickets are 99,000 won for R seats, 77,000 won for S seats, and 44,000 won for A seats.