Lear played by Kevin R McNally
King Lear (2017)
Written by: Shakespeare
Appearing in his first production at Shakespeare’s Globe, Kevin McNally will play the titular role in King Lear.
Previous theatre includes: The Missing Hancocks (Assembly Rooms), The Dance of Death (Donmar at Trafalgar Studios); Hay Fever (Noel Coward Theatre); Hamlet, Ivanov (Donmar at Wyndhams); Boeing Boeing (Comedy Theatre); World Music (Donmar Warehouse); The Lady in the Van (Queens Theatre); Naked, Scenes from an Execution (Almeida Theatre); Dead Funny, Plunder (Savoy Theatre); Hidden Laughter (Vaudeville Theatre); Andromache, The Tutor (Old Vic); Glengarry Glen Ross (Mermaid Theatre); Extremities (Duchess Theatre); Dispatches, The Mysteries¸ Larkrise, The Iceman Cometh (National Theatre); Daughters of Men, Loose Ends, Four Door Saloon (Hampstead Theatre); Prayer For My Daughter, Three More Sleepless Nights and Not Quite Jerusalem (Royal Court Theatre).
Film includes: All five Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Legend, The Raven, In the Interests of the Nations (Hamilton Trilogy), Valkyrie, The Phantom of the Opera, De-Lovely, Johnny English, Entrapment, Sliding Doors, Spice World, Enigma, The Long Good Friday, Cry Freedom and The Spy Who Loved Me.
Television includes: Turn: Washington’s Spies, Designated Survivor, Maigret, Hancock, Fleabag, Power Monkeys, Count Arthur Strong, 24: Live Another Day, Burn Notice, Downton Abbey, Supernatural, Poe, CSI, Life On Mars, Dunkirk, Spooks, Shackleton, Conspiracy, Dad, Underworld, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Minder, Bottom, Jekyll and Hyde, Dr Who, The Devil’s Crown, Poldark and I, Claudius.
Radio includes: The Missing Hancocks.
"The real journey is Lear finding his own humanity, him becoming a reasonable human being sadly too late for his daughter and too late for himself, which is then the true tragedy of the play. You know, we think of people that we don't like in this world: will they ever find humanity? Will truly nasty people ever find humanity? Probably not. But Lear does, which makes us ultimately care for him, I think..."
With just a few more performances to go, Kevin answers questions from our listeners, reveals some behind the scenes secrets, and gets a little surprise...
"'Howl, howl, howl, howl!' Some people say that's him howling, or it might be encouraging other people to howl. And I was coming on very upset, but I realised it takes a while for grief to set in. I've started to realise he's coming on stage now with his dead daughter in a state of shock, and he's saying to the people around him, 'Will you please howl at how horrible this is?'"
Kevin takes us through what he's discovered about the show, his character and the audience, with the performances underway.
"Having (like most actors at some point) in my life suffered from stage fright, it clarified and reminded me that it's not seeing the audience that give you stage fright. Having the acceptance that they are there in the theatre watching you is actually a great feeling. The thing that often gives you stage fright is pretending that fourth wall, the audience isn't there..."
With Tech Week under their belts, Kevin talks to us about opening night and stage fright.
"We're really discovering how the Fool might be amusing to the King. And I’ve also realised in the play, it’s not just that it’s Elizabethan sense of humour; we join the fool when all her humour’s gone. She’s become depressed, because of what he’s done with Cordelia. So, when I started to see some theatrical chemistry there, I thought the big problem, was going to be solved..."
Looking back, Kevin takes us through his first memory of acting and his favourite moment from rehearsals so far.
"Our King Lear isn’t set in any period. We are a bunch of displaced people. We’re going to have the theatre closed up, barred to us. And we sort of invade the theatre, break into it, and perform our play. And I really like that, because it means that the only place it exists is the place of the play..."
As the dramatic world begins to take shape, Kevin takes us through what we can expect from the setting, music, and costumes.
"I got to that speech and I thought, 'Ah, finally!' I’ve found a speech rather than me going, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to be so hard to play Lear’, I went, 'I really want to get up on stage and say this speech!' Looking forward to getting out there and doing it, rather than being fearful of doing it. And it was that speech for me that unlocked my relationship to performing Lear..."
Taking on this infamous role, Kevin tells us about his initial impressions of Lear, his journey through the play, and which speech 'unlocked' the character.
"The question a lot of us have asked during our very brief rehearsals at the moment, is why Emma chose to have this play in a season entitled The Summer of Love. And I think the answer is that this is the thwarted love play: this is the inverted love play, this is the play in which love is missed and abused..."
In his first week of rehearsals at the Globe, Kevin talks to us about his experience with King Lear, performing Shakespeare, and playing the 'wooden O'.