Your RDA of Irony

No Leering at Lear


Sir Ian McKellen’s full frontal nude scene in a stage production of King Lear has been cut from a U.S. TV version of the play.

McKellen stars in network PBS’ adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear – but producers have decided to simply “suggest” the nudity, instead of showing the full, unedited clip.

Putting the prude in prudence, PBS is concerned that some viewers think that Sir Ian’s homosexuality might be contagious. (The same people who, if listening to Cole Porter or Tschaikowsky, would sterilize the grammophone needle.) However, King Lear actually needs the nudity if only to distract the audience from the play’s overwhelming bleakness. Prozac should be dispensed to the audience; otherwise the play’s nonstop misery would induce mass suicide.

No, for the public’s safety and sanity, King Lear should be made fun. Why not cast Burt Reynolds in the title role? He wouldn’t even have a problem with nudity as long as he could keep on his toupee. His presence would reassure the audience “Hey, this play can’t be that tragic.” With that frame of mind, Gloucester’s blinding and Cordelia’s lynching might be just good slapstick–a Gentile Three Stooges.

However, if you insist that King Lear be played as a tragedy, at least cast an actor we all would love to see humiliated and abused. Who would tempt you to yell at the TV set, “Kick him again, kick him again.” I am envisioning Jim Carrey as King Lear.

  1. Peggles says:

    The image of Sir Ian doing the full monty is disconcerting (bordering on terrifying)! Sometimes a little censorship can be a good thing.

  2. Hal Gordon says:

    Well, as Phyllis Diller once said on another occasion: “I got a phone call from a peeping tom the other night. He asked me to pull my shades down.”

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