The Story So Far: Cordelia and her army have landed in Dover. Kent has escorted King Lear to Dover, but has lost him somewhere on the way. Edgar is scoring his suicidal and blinded father, Gloucester, to Dover. Edmund and Albany are preparing to march the British armies to Dover. It's all about Dover.
Edgar is either the world's worst psychotherapist or the world's best psychotherapist. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure that tricking your patient into thinking he's jumping off the Cliffs of Dover isn't a widely-accepted form of treating depression. On the other hand, it does seem to cure Gloucester's suicidal desire, so who am I to criticize?
Gloucester falling off the cliff presents a real staging dilemma. The sight of someone falling flat on his face is inherently amusing, but the pathos of Gloucester's suicide attempt is anything but. I tend to laugh at this part, but your mileage may vary. Leave a note in the comments if you've seen a particularly memorable Gloucester-fall!
Lear is full-on nuts in this scene. To Freud's presumed delight, he spends a good part of this scene raving about sex and female genitalia. However, Gloucester's heart-breaking reaction to Lear's ravings should, if done properly, really highlight the awful transformation that Lear has undergone.
That said, Lear says some pretty funny things in this scene, mostly at poor old Gloucester's expense.
Poor old Oswald. If you're playing the "Oswald Drinking Game", take two drinks: one for his attempted letter delivery and one for his getting beaten up a final time. Note Oswald's fanatical devotion to his duty. Even when mortally wounded, his first thought is "Someone has to deliver this letter! The mail must get through!" Unfortunately he gives the letter to the one person in the world most likely not to deliver the letter.
Stop by again on Monday as we wrap up Act 4. Act 3 ended with one of the most horrific acts of violence in the Shakespearean canon. Act 4 ends with one of its most touching reconciliation scenes... if you're into that kind of thing.