Written and performed by John D Slater, who is no stranger one man stage presentations. His noted performance as Mark Gospel Writer, committing to memory the whole of Mark’s Gospel (15,000+) words gave over 200 performance in theatres, colleges, schools, churches, festivals – also TV, and was featured at The CRE exhibition at G-Mex.
“King Lear’s Fool’s Tale” – although only brought to light in 2023, has it’s roots for inspiration from John being part of the Lawrence Olivier Granada TV production of “King Lear” back in 1983.
In this 55min production John aims to bring out the relationship the fool had with the king; how he stuck by him almost to the end.
Though there is a serious message to be conveyed, covering most of the dark side of human nature – vanity, greed, jealousy, ageism, lust – being the fool, there is much humour also, as the Fool plays out the story to his audience.
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Previous Public Performances
Buxton Festival – Church Rooms
Morecambe Fringe – Playhouse
Bridlington – Priory Rooms
Bridlington – The Hub
Blackpool – Old Electric Theatre
MOST RECENT PERFORMANCE – MAY 13th 2023 – SHEFFIELD
Blackpool Social Club Internet Magazine.
Theatre review: King Lear’s Fool’s Tale – Old Electric Theatre.
BY DAVID SIMPER MARCH 27, 2023
Friday 24th March finds me once more on the service 3 bus to see this excellent one-person, King Lear focused, show at The Old Electric Theatre. Although I knew elements of this play – two nasty daughters, one nice, he goes mad, there’s a storm – I’ve never seen or read it, so a quick search for a synopsis was necessary. The daughters’ names often come up in the crossword. Gosh, a lot happens and a lot of it brutal.
A small but select gathering was ushered up the stairs to a conveniently sized bar/cafe area above the main auditorium. Quite cozy. Without further ado, John D. Slater, as the King’s faithful companion the Fool, entered the stage.
Slater was dressed as a restrained fool, he had bells on his ankles but not his hat, which was a straw thing with a turned back brim. His skull puppet, named Eddie, perhaps foreshadowed what was to come . Some gentle songs are included, received with applause. The King is supposedly off-stage making daisy chains.
There follows an amiable and somewhat bemused run through the play’s plot – basically a retirement plan gone disastrously wrong and the consequences of a huge and cynical ego meeting a declining mind and body, which slips into mental illness, compounded by a calamitous misunderstanding with a loved one, leading to war and death. Actually, the fool doesn’t get that far here [spoiler alert], probably for the best when one knows what happens to him later. There are some excellent insights into the plot and the characters here.
The audience was rapt, which I think showed Slater’s subtle skill as an actor. In less capable hands, this show could have come across as meandering, leading to the question ‘can’t we just have the play?’. Other plays, including Hamlet, get a reference, as well as Shakespeare himself, “he’ll never amount to much”. The show was scheduled for an hour and it didn’t seem like that, the time shooting by. With a reference to meeting Cordelia and her army at Dover, the Fool leaves the stage. The character apparently blissfully unaware that it’s then things really kick off.
John D. Slater reappeared for a short Q&A. Some of the show’s inspiration comes from him appearing in Lawrence Olivier’s filmed version of the play as one of the hundred knights.