On the second day of rehearsals for King Lear, and on the date of his 71st birthday, actor Edward Petherbridge suffered a stroke that left him virtually unable to move. Remarkably, however, he retained a perfect recall of his lines. Still keen to do what he referred to as a ‘pocket’ Lear, Paul Hunter (founder of theatre company Told By An Idiot) suggested that he instead did a show about ‘not doing Lear’.
The result was My Perfect Mind, which returns to the Young Vic this September following huge success in 2013. Performed by both Petherbridge and Hunter, the former describes the effect of the show as “rather like attending a masterclass on King Lear while under the influence of LSD.’’ Shifting between a Shakesperean recital, an exploration of Petherbridge’s life, a theatrical injoke and a contemplation of ageing and renewal, this is collaborative theatre in its purest form. The capable hands of director Kathryn Hunter (who has herself played both Lear and the fool) ensure that everything is steered in the right direction to create what Lyn Gardner called ‘an exquisite piece of tomfoolery’.
King Lear, much like Hamlet, is the part lusted after by every actor at some point in his career. For an acclaimed classical actor such as Petherbridge to have that lifelong ambition pulled from under him seemed desperately cruel, yet it has resulted in a show that defines a career; perhaps the ghost of a performance never given could be the very thing that secures his legacy as a performer. We cannot recommend this more highly.
|What||My Perfect Mind, Young Vic|
The Young Vic
66 The Cut , Waterloo, London, SE1 8LZ | MAP
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
03 Sep 14 – 27 Sep 14, 7:45pm; matinees 2:45pm
|Website||Click here to book via Young Vic|