Alternate Title King Lear / The Seagull, King Lear/The Seagull
Premiere US Premiere
Production Language English
Country of Origin England, United Kingdom
Description In 2007 the Royal Shakespeare Company returned to BAM with two shows, a pairing of Shakespeare and Chekhov, King Lear and The Seagull, run in repertoire. The star attraction was Ian McKellen as Lear. Though 68 at the time, this was McKellen’s first Lear, and his interpretation was vigorous and physical. He managed each night to carry a dead Cordelia across the stage, and bared all in a brief nude scene. Critics hailed the depth of his performance, the transition from proud and unyielding titan to a man humbled by age and terrible lessons. In select performances of Seagull, McKellen also played the milder, less demanding role of Sorin. Both plays were directed by Trevor Nunn, a frequent collaborator with McKellen.
Earlier in his career, in 1974, McKellen had performed at BAM when he and the short-lived ensemble The Actor’s Company ran four plays in repertoire. Those included a Lear in which McKellen played Edgar. Now, because of his impeccable classical stage pedigree and the Hollywood star power he’d garnered from films such as The Lord of the Rings and X-Men, McKellen’s take on the King was widely anticipated. The 2007 productions started out at Stratford-upon-Avon and toured internationally, ending with a run on the West End.