Sir Ian McKellen as "King Lear" at Stratford-upon-Avon
But my overall experience of the play at Stratford on Weds. night tops any play I've ever seen (not that I've seen that many). One can always quibble over such and such an individual role or scene, but when taken as a whole I found it a most invigorating, dramatic, at times funny and ultimately very moving production, at the centre of which was Sir Ian McKellen. He is one of those actors who can just hold an audience in the palm of their hand and take them on a journey. With him in "King Lear" that journey involves the usual decent into madness but also a gradual sense of self-discovery, of self-awareness, of a mind in conflict, wishing at the same time to willfully suppress the pain of betrayal (both real and supposed) and yet hold onto some shred of sanity. He also brings to the role a wonderful sensitivity, humour, mischievousness and deftness of touch that defies the audience not to feel great affection for him. Much more so than Hopkins did, I feel.