Saturday, 31 March 2007

That old chestnut

King Lear is the new Hamlet. Boys with floppy hair and tight black jeans aren't soliloquising about suicide; they're wondering what they'd do if they got their eyes poked out. What's hot: sibling rivalry, storm scenes, and existential angst. What's not: the Oedipus complex, Denmark, and jumping into other people's graves.

Personally, I've never liked Lear much. I'm put off right from the start by the fact that the daughters are all named after venereal diseases: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and what's her name. And then there's all that business with the eyes. I know there's a fine literary tradition of eye-gouging out there, what with Samson and Delilah, Odysseus and the Cyclops, but I prefer not to have to think about ruptured eyeballs in anything but the most abstract sense.

The reason I mention King Lear, on this thirty-first day of March, is its Fool. He's a clever piece of work, if ever there was one. Given that His Maj is, in turn, a selfish and stupid git, ye wise Fool is begging to be embraced as the Shakespeherean mascot of all Anarchists and Anti-monarchists with Early Modern Thespian Tendencies.

Tomorrow is April Fools' Day. As it is also Palm Sunday, I will be abstaining from my hilarious repertoir of japes and criminal offences out of respect for Jesus. ('Though that means withholding rumours about the multi-species parentage of sheepdogs.) Nonetheless, I've often wondered about April Fools' Day. Who is the Fool? The fooled or the fooler? King Lear's Fool is insightful, in a sybilline kinda way. Certainly he ain't the one getting his eyes gouged. But what if he'd tried to tell Lear about sheepdogs? Indeed, did they even have sheepdogs in ye olde Albion? If not, how did they herd sheep?

More pressingly, what is the relationship between an April Fool and a Strawberry Fool? Is it legal to garnish an April Fool with almond flakes? Or should I use hazelnuts?

Which reminds me, I bought a dozen chestnuts from the Thornbury veg market yesterday. Do I roast them with their skins on?

12 comments:

Karen said...

I must confess to being very fond of Lear, partly on account of having to do it for the HSC. "Out vile jelly! Where is thy lustre now?" was recited with much relish by all and sundry. And, believe it or not, it really lightened things up after having to read Robert Lowell for 3 unit. Oh, and we had John Tranter's The Floor of Heaven too and there's a fork up the nose in that, if memory serves me correctly. These are the things that impress at that age. I would certainly like to see these young men roaming the windswept plains with cracked smiles and hair askew!

Did you see the Russian language Twelfth Night? The fool in that was the best I've ever seen live, I think. Fools are usually played very poorly, in my opinion, which is disappointing.

TimT said...

Then again, much Learing can't be done after the eye-gouging has taken place. Out, vile jelly, indeed!

TimT said...

Mel Brooks reference: in The Producers, several jokes are made about Max Bialystock's failed Broadway productions. One is 'Funny Boy', a musical production of Hamlet. Another is 'King Leer'.

In the film, when Ullawhatshername, played by lanky and lustrous Uma Thurman, makes her first entrance into the offices of Max and Leo, all eyes swivel in her direction - and I mean ALL eyes. Not just Leo and Max, but the poster of King Leer on the wall on her left (I think): Leer really DOES do some leering there.

Friend said...

It's the sheep sausage dog snakes whose parentage ye should by puzzling over, methinks!

A peaceful Palm Sunday to you and your kin (and other fellow blogsters).

wool spaniel said...

The sheepdogs they had in ye olde Albion were, of course, Olde English Sheepdogs. And they heard sheep with their ears, which is just as well coz they've got wool in their eyes.

Adrian said...

I'm no thespian, but I have early modern tendencies! (And some would call me a fool.)

Like Karen, I have high school Lear memories. I remember choosing Edmund's I.ii soliloquy as my recitation piece for a declamation exam. It was an appropriately tortured rendition of a tortured male character's tortured private hell, chosen, appropriately enough, by a tortured adolescent. I poured into it all of my incipient, closeted-queer angst, especially the line, "Now god stands for bastards!"

Come to think of it, maybe I am a thespian after all...

wool spaniel said...

Oven-roasted chestnuts:

Clean bird poo etc off the chestnuts but don't peel them yet. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Cut an X into one side of each chestnut, or prick chestnuts with a fork to allow steam to escape. Otherwise they might explode, even after they have come out of the oven. Arrange chestnuts on a baking sheet with the cut or pricked sides up. Otherwise they might leap off the pan while their steam is escaping. Roast for 15 to 25 minutes, or until chestnuts are tender and easy to peel. Peel the shells & skins off the nuts when they are cool enough to handle. Eat.

TimT said...

If the English Sheepdogs are Olde, then do they bark by going Wough, Wough, Wough?

TimT said...

I have from time to time been called a Chess Nut, though I usually don't have bird poo on me.

alexis said...

You're such good commenters, you lot. I don't even have to turn up to the party. Just leave a bottle of ginger beer and a plate of chocolate crackles and you folk rage on into the wee hours.

Quite.

Now, to business:

Nope, didn't see the Russian Twelfth Night, although I was bustin' to compare the English surtitles with the English original from which the Russian was translated. Assuming there were surtitles. Actually, I'm very silly not to have seen it. I used to collect Twelfth Night productions. I think I'm up to five, including two films.

Adrian, I'm so sorry about the tortured adolescence, but glad to hear that you channelled your angst in such productive directions.

Chess nut! Ha! Sheepdogs heard with their ears! Ha! King LEER! Ha!

Thanks for roasting tips, WS. Will save up my chestnuts til next time I have the oven ablaze.

Love, all,
Lex Harl.

Karen said...

Oh, you missed out! It was such a treat to see men playing women (or men playing women playing men, rather) properly. There were surtitles awkwardly placed in the upper righthand corner. I re-read it beforehand, so I wouldn't have to look too much, but I don't think they were translating the Russian back into English.
One of the best things I'd seen in a long time- the number of empty seats was criminal. I saw Robert LePage beforehand and I was livid with rage at how bad he was! The contrast could not have been starker.

Anonymous said...

wow gold
wow gold
wow power leveling
wow power leveling
wow power leveling
wow powerleveling
wow powerleveling
wow powerleveling
World Of Warcraft power leveling
World Of Warcraft power leveling
World Of Warcraft power leveling
World Of Warcraft powerleveling
World Of Warcraft powerleveling
World Of Warcraft powerleveling
wow power level
wow power level
wow power level
cheap wow power leveling
cheap wow power leveling
cheap wow powerleveling
cheap wow powerleveling
codeheart article
Warcraft Gold
World of Warcraft Gold
cheap wow gold