Every Inch A Lear: A Rehearsal Journal Of "King Lear" With Peter Ustinov And The Stratford Festival Company Directed By Robin Phillips
[These notes were made in 1984. I read the Victoria, B.C. : Sono Nis Press 1982, edition] Introduction and illustrations by Peter Ustinov. This made fascinating reading, chiefly because, despite its protestations of discretion, it was largely indiscreet. (Lord knows what would have come out if Good had actually tried to be indiscreet!) To give him credit, he doesn't openly announce his dislike of any of the people involved; nor does he comment on anything outside of rehearsal. Indeed, occasionally he mentions that he has omitted something said in rehearsal that's too personal. But most of the pithy give-and-take is still there, and few of the participants emerge unscathed. Ustinov is exposed as never quite knowing his lines, for instance, and Good has a few unkind things to say about his bulk as well. But there seems to have been a remarkably persistent air of good-humour during these rehearsals, pervaded by Phillips' intensity. Good seems intensely aware of Phillips - not just his words and ideas, but his gestures and physical presence. From the way he waxes lyrical about Robin, you can see he has at the very least an advanced case of hero-worship, not without cause, if the results this benevolent tyrant gets are really as Good describes them. Of the other actors involved in the production, I get the feeling that Good thinks the most of Douglas Rain, of whom he speaks often in the most admiring terms. The other, hidden star of the book is Shakespeare, of course, and I found it a pleasure as well as a necessity to have Lear open in front of me as I perused Good's often elliptical and allusive comments about the way a particular scene (or line, or word!) was handled! But this book throws light on Shakespeare only in a very secondary way; it sheds far more on Peter Ustinov, more still on Robin Phillips, and most of all on Maurice Good. On matters of spelling (of names, for instance!) and other such minutiae, this book could have used a better editor, by the way!