My recent post about King Lear trigged a question in my mind. It's often assumed that the Fool's abrupt absence towards the end of Lear was due to the fact that the actor who played the Fool was also Cordelia. In fact, acting companies in the Renaissance frequently had to double cast in order to accomodate all the parts in the play. But when the same person who played the fool comes out as Cordelia, are we supposed to recognize this and draw some meaning from it, or are we supposed to not see it? I saw a production of Lear at Cambridge two years ago in which the fool and Cordelia were very consciously done by the same actor. Lear would physically beat the fool out of rage and insanity, and Cordelia returned at the end, limping and and somewhat battered. In a sense, the two share a similar sacrificial love for Lear.
Does anyone know of other roles that were believed to have been performed by the same actor? Could Hamlet's ghost have also been Osrick, for example? I'd be curious to know. I'm also curious to know your thoughts on whether this did or should have added another level f understanding to these characters.
"Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices, that, if I then had wak'd after long sleep, will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches ready to drop upon me, that, when I wak'd, I cried to dream again"