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September 17, 2012


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I saw a production in Princeton that did this. (Indeed, Cordelia/Fool was played by my classmate, Lecy Goranson). It "worked" in the way that doubling often works: you respect the two characters as "distinct" but you also see parallels between them, with hints that they may in fact be the same person. (Lear's line at the end, "And my poor fool is hanged!" plays on this, as one doesn't know if he's referring to Cordelia or The Fool. The Fool simply disappears shortly before Cordelia's appearance and is never referred to again (other than in Lear's line).) The emotional resonances for the viewer are quite intense. You don't know if The Fool is (and always has been?) Cordelia or if the actor playing them is simply doubling. Both characters are "truth-tellers," though one cannot "act" while the other's very being is defined by performance. The general feeling of uncertainty about their status fits with the general mood of the play. As for The King's Men's performances, it would make sense for the roles to be doubled (the two characters are never onstage at the same time) though my guess is Robert Armin played the Fool and I'm not sure if he played Cordelia. If so, it would probably be the only female role he ever took.

Rob Weinert-Kendt

This production in LA, which I saw while in college, had a lot of problems (mainly, a Norwegian actor in the lead whose English was questionable, and a storm scene performed entirely under a black plastic tarp), but the fool/Cordelia angle was one of its more interesting aspects. http://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-09/entertainment/ca-14468_1_king-lear


I once saw a production directed by my friend Geoffrey Owens at the old RAPP Arts Center (before it became the Connelly Center) where he had his girlfriend play both parts, but I don't recall if it was anything other than double casting. He's a great guy, if you want to track him down and ask:

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