Monday, 10 February 2014

King Lear and Lewy Body Dementia

A very interesting article to read.

King Lear could have been suffering from Lewy Body dementia, the actor Simon Russell Beale has suggested, as he discloses the medical research he undertook before taking on the role.
Russell Beale, who is currently playing Lear in the Sam Mendes-directed production at the National Theatre, said he had studied the form of dementia to help him understand the character.
Speaking at a platform event at the theatre this week (Weds), he said the research had helped inform his performance of a Lear suffering hallucinations, fear, anger and a shaking hand.
“In this one, I thought I bet Shakespeare, being the acute observer of human nature that he is, would have studied old men,” he said. “I thought: I’m going to do a bit of research.”
He added it was the first time he had undertaken such specific medical research for a role, as he called on qualified family members to assist him.
“It was fascinating,” he said. “It was the first time I’ve ever done it.”
He added the illness was not a “blueprint” for the character, but had help inform the way he played his version of Lear, who delivers the line: “I fear I am not in my perfect mind.”
The description of Lewy bodies sufferers experiencing “sudden outbursts of rage” had “seemed to tie to Lear very well”.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, Lewy bodies accounts for as many as ten per cent of dementia cases, and involves symptoms associated with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
They can include hallucinations, delusions, sleep disorder, agitation, aggression and mobility problems such as stooping, shuffling and trembling of a limb.
Telegraph reviewer Charles Spencer, who awarded the show four stars, said Russell Beale “movingly captures Lear’s terrified intimations of madness”, with his insanity “often harrowing to watch”.

Elderly and driving

After the news in the media during the last few days, I think it's time that elderly people had their eyes etc tested on a regular basis...