Puppet Lear, byáRachel Hutt
Radical Reinterpretation ofáaáClassic
Anatomia Ensemble isáaáyoung Finland-based theatre company. They recently performed atáthe Moscow Mossovet Theatre ináRussia asáaápart ofáthe State Theatre ofáNations, which provides performance opportunities for the best touring productions and emerging artists from Russia and abroad.
Darkness. Heavy, labored breathing accompanied byábeeping hospital machines. Asáthe lights come up, toáthe audience's surprise, Lear isárevealed asáaápuppet. Hunched over with bulging eyes, heáisánaked. The King fumbles with his hospital bed. Aáfrail, old man; heáisánear death. Teetering onáthe edge ofáinsanity, heáhallucinates, blurring the lines between dreams and reality. Anatomia Ensemble's The Anatomy ofáLear, aáwordless deconstruction ofáKing Lear, that features puppets alongside live actors, awakens aámore empathetic Lear byáexposing his remorse and fragility. Anatomia Ensemble's mission isáto: dive into aáworld beyond words, searching how toátransform feelings into images. This strictly visual performance boils King Lear down toáits essence, stripping away the heightened language and complex subplots.
Byásolely employing visual images asáthe means toátell their story, the ensemble was able toáinvestigate the themes ofáloss and reconciliation. Onáthe verge ofámadness, Lear leaves the physical world ofásickness and old age behind and enters aáphantasmagorical realm ofánightmares. Two curtains part toáreveal Lear's hallucination: anáoversized dead version ofáhimself onáaágurney. Aámedical examiner performs anáautopsy. Along with his heart, three screaming fetuses inájars are ripped from his womb. The babies are his three daughters: Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. The act ofáremoving Lear's heart isáaáclear metaphor for his heartless actions. His rash judgments and treatment ofáhis daughters have come back toáhaunt him.
InáShakespeare's King Lear, Goneril and Regan manipulate their father for power and control. Byáhaving puppeteers play the parts ofáthe sisters, Anatomia Ensemble further highlights the supremacy Lear's daughters had over him. Asáaápuppet, Lear, anáinanimate object, isácompletely reliant onáhis puppeteers (his daughters) for life.
Lear's desire toáchange arouses compassion for his character. Occasionally, Lear wakes upáfrom his demonic illusions crying, Cordelia! This isáthe only voiced word ináthe entire production. Byáuttering her name, Lear laments disowning Cordelia and yearns for reconciliation. Somewhat aware ofáhis environment, heácoughs weakly and shivers from the cold. Aáonce powerful ruler reverts back toábeing aábaby.
Lear isátoo weak toátalk. The audience sees his physical and emotional pain through his body language. Basic life tasks such aságetting dressed and eating aámeal become too difficult toácomplete. Heárings for aánurse who helps him get dressed, fetches his glasses, locates aánewspaper, and tucks him tightly inábed. When offered food the sickly-thin King acts like aáchild, swatting his meal away. Underneath his regressive behavior, Lear senses death. Ináhis vulnerability, weáidentify with his suffering. Weásee ourselves ináLear.
AsáLear slips into unconsciousness, ináhis final dream, all three ofáhis estranged daughters return toáhis deathbed. Caressing him with tender hands, they forgive him. Their unconditional love gives him the permission toádie. Heátakes aáfew more labored breaths and passes away.