29 February 2008 | London Theatregoing

One of the joys of not working is being able to see others at work. Since my Lear responsibilities ended in February with our recording the stage production for PBS/CHANNEL 4 showings and a DVD later this year, I've been a busy audience member.

In the theatre I've revelled in Sean Mathias's startling version of Jean Anouilh's farcical classic RING ROUND THE MOON; a jolly West End revival of PIRATES OF PENZANCE; a workshop of Joe Pietro's latest FUCKING MEN, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES soon to transfer to the West End with Douglas Hodge; Michael Grandage's acclaimed OTHELLO at the Donmar; Spacey and Goldblum sparking life into Mamet's SPEED THE PLOUGH — oh yes and five of Daniel Barenboim's concerts of Beethoven's Sonatas at the Festival Hall, a Vivaldi concert in Venice, and Mika's final gig of his 18-month tour, at Brixton Academy.

And more - because this week I visited Eton College where I led four very accomplished acting pupils through the intricacies of speaking Shakespeare sonnets outloud. This I have done with John Barton and others at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where treating the sonnets as self-contained speeches can illuminate the devices of Shakespeare's verse so that it sounds like dramatic language not a poetry recital.

Ian McKellen, 29 February 2008

(L-R) Edwin Ashcroft, Oli Clark, Ian McKellen, anonymous, Sam Klug
At Eton College

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