New York, New York
November 7, 2012
New York, New York. If Edmund can make it here, he'll make it anywhere.
One of the most exciting things for me about playing Edmund is seeing how his relationship with the audience changes during the course of the play.
At the beginning, I try to inject a sense of anarchic fun into the proceedings. After the formality of the first scene, unabashed and unashamed, Edmund turns to the audience and tells them exactly who he is, how he feels, and what he intends to do.
In New York more than anywhere else so far, I've felt a really positive reaction to this directness. The young audience members really seem to warm to Edmund's mischievous trickery.
But as the play progress and Edmund's behaviour becomes increasingly more sinister, I can feel a sense of ambivalence developing in the audience.
Edmund continues to appeal directly to them and to share with them the odd wry wink, but as they see other cherished characters suffering as a result of his behaviour, they begin to wonder whether the joke hasn't gone a bit too far.
By the time that he reveals that he intends to hang Cordelia, nobody's laughing any more.
On Thursday morning's performance, with a wonderfully responsive crowd, this shift was more noticeable than it has ever been before.
As Edgar succeeded in gaining the upper hand at the end of the knife fight of the final scene, the audience erupted into spontaneous and elated applause.
If you've never experienced a throng of young teenaged cheering and whooping as you are unceremoniously stabbed and choked to death, then let me tell you - it's quite an unsettling experience. But then, it's just one of the incredibly exciting - and often unexpected - reactions that we've been getting from these wonderfully generous Big Apple audiences.
Is Edmund a strangely likeable and ultimately pitiable character whose actions are a result of the way he's been treated by those around him? Or is he simply a figure of evil, a villain with no redeeming qualities? It's up to you, New York, New York.
by Ben Deery
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