The Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1997
by Laurie Winer, Times Theater Critic
Ian McKellen, that wonderfully elegant, frequently Shakespearean actor, proves the cliché that we would happily watch a good actor read from the phone book. Although in this case, Sir Ian recites the Beaufort scale.
The Beaufort scale is a meteorological chart describing the effects of wind force, from zero (calm) to 12 (hurricane). McKellen enacts the scale as the encore to his one-man show "A Knight Out in Los Angeles" . . . Sir Ian starts off serenely with the early stages of wind disturbance. "Two. Light breeze. Wind felt on face," he says, eyes half closed, apparently enjoying a gentle breeze on his cheek. By the time he gets to 10 ("Who-oole gale! Trees uprooted!"), he is King Lear, howling in the storm, his terrified eyes seeming to follow oaks that are taking flight before him.
The Beaufort scale has never been so entertaining. . . .
Most of the show, though, stays focused on McKellen's theme, a literary plea for an empathetic understanding of homosexuality, intertwined with the actor's own autobiography. . . .
McKellen makes us aware of the vast and powerful intolerance outside the comfortable walls of the theater. Endowed with a rare technique, he is a natural storyteller, an admirable human being and a hands-on activist.
Copyright 1997 Los Angeles Times
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