Friday, February 5, 2016

Death Comes for the Thespian - Brian Bedford RIP

There have been so many celebrity deaths lately that one simply cannot keep up.  I am quite abashed that I didn't learn of Brian Bedford's passing until two weeks later (and I am not posting until another week has gone by).  He died from cancer on Jan 13, basically right between Bowie and Rickman, so that squeezed out all other celebrity deaths for a while.   He was 80.  The Star had a nice obit.
I believe I only saw him twice in various Stratford productions, including a powerful Julius Caesar in an otherwise muddled production.  I also saw him in School for Scandal (with Steven Sutcliffe as well), which was excellent.

He had slowed down and more or less stopped performing by 2013, and I've only been able to start going to Stratford on a regular basis since 2014.  But he left a very strong legacy at Stratford -- and very limited work in films or TV, which unfortunately means he will not leave much of a trace in the general culture.  He did have a role in the movie Nixon and was the voice of Robin Hood in the Disney movie, which is probably the height of his fame.  There is a filmed version of The Importance of Being Ernest, which is probably quite good, and I may get it, but comparing Bedford in drag as Lady Bracknell to all the bigger roles he had over his career, it is a bit anti-climatic.

It is likely that Stratford has some other DVDs available, though probably not for the roles I'd be most interested in (School for Scandal being the tops).  But I'll check around this summer when I go down.

I've pretty much settled that I am only going down for John Gabriel Borkman.  Arthur Miller's All My Children is a fine play, and I am sure it is a good production, but I think this is a play that is fairly dependent on the twist at the end, so it isn't one that lends itself to seeing multiple times.  I would definitely go see Death of a Salesman again, even though I "know" the ending, but I just cannot summon up the same enthusiasm for All My Children.  Plus, I probably will have to be cutting back at least a bit on entertainment expenses.  I may change my mind if the reviews are stunning, but I doubt it.  I'd actually be more likely to go to a couple of the Shaw productions, depending upon reviews, but that isn't likely either.

I think I'll end this post before it gets even more off-track.  I did find an image of him in School for Scandal, looking just a bit forlorn.

And here's a better photo of Bedford as Lear, probably from 2007.  This is a production that I would very much like to have seen, but Chicago is just far enough from Stratford (and Chicago has so much going on) that it didn't cross my mind to make the trip.  As I said, I will see if Stratford puts together a DVD of Lear or even a greatest hits package of Bedford pacing the boards.  RIP

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