A fool in the Gorbals

I have been up in Glasgow for a few days working on King Lear, directed by Dominic Hill  at the Citz. the world of the play seems to be settling into an urban slightly Eastern European gangster feel in which Lear’s privilege seperates him from the Poor Toms (Edgar’s mad character), the homeless of the city and it is only by confronting this wasted humanity in the world around him that he finds himself. So the storm on the heath wont be an expulsion into wind, rain and blowing heather, rather a more abstract  breaking of the fragile barrier that separates us from lawlessness and the streets. From my references of Russian street kids, who live in sewers, contrasted with the grandeur of Ceaucescu’s palaces i have built up the sense of who these people might be, the problem always of thinking ahead is how this will work when the actors come with their own physiques ,attitudes and creative ideas in rehearsal. Nothing is more true than with the Fool; who is this person, how does he relate to Lear, is he funny haha or peculiar! ? I deliberately didnt think too much of him in advance, waiting to see rehearsal. I had some pictures of 70s entertainers in bad suits as a possible look, but it was only when i saw how brutally Lear was treating him, that things got clearer. ‘He should be a Romanian orphan that Lear picked up one day and has never let really grow up’ said Dominic, so ok what does he look like? Frightening images of the Crankies pass through my head or Angus from Motorhead ! He limps through abuse and yet  despite this wit remains sharp . There was something Smike like or perhaps more like Ian Dury. A defiant entertainer.

So with the great joy of internet i could sit watching him while searching for images, Ian Dury in a white tux and jeans, tight black t shirt , even one in Bowler hat ( by chance his Coxcomb for rehearsal). It is not that i want him to look like Ian Dury, it isnt a tribute band after all, it is just a way to get into a character, one which the actor instantly related to too. in an earlier rehearsal he had tried a cockney accent and said he had felt Duryesque ! The citz has great in house store so i rumaged through and found a few items for a fitting.

The fitting process took the idea further , what works on the actor rather than on the page or screen, a pair of DM boots helps him with physicality, perhaps the jeans are too ordinary ? The tux looks wrong ,but a short ship’s stewards jacket, already well worn, seemed perfect. We are moving away from the references and discovering what works for the play, we will try more ideas next week but it is a start.


  1. Colin Adamson says

    a wee peek into the designer mind – a revelation and it sounds as it is all coming together very well. Look forward to the pictures.

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