Arguably Shakespeare’s most tragic play, this production of King Lear was well-acted, staged in a simple but engaging way, and made me shed a few tears by the end. I wasn’t expecting to feel so affected, but this production hit me right in the metaphorical balls.
The cast was assembled perfectly with each actor suiting their role well and the performances were good all round. Michael Pennington played the role of King Lear with charisma and ease. The way that he played Lear’s descent into madness was both compelling and heart breaking to watch. Catherine Bailey was engaging and beguiling as Goneril. She found moments of lightness and wit in a character who lacks in redeeming qualities. Beth Cooke as Cordelia was empathic and found the strength of this character. Regan (the middle sister) was played by Sally Scott. She portrayed Regan in a really interesting way. On the outside she seemed sweet, but had a cunning inner life. The stage fights were exciting to watch and the choreography seemed complex.
The play had a strong start, the lights don’t even go off and Cordelia walks onto the stage
holding a rifle and the sound of the gun fire filled the room. It definitely grabbed my attention. There were nice transitions between scenes, which helped me re-engage if I got a bit lost. The technical work done to create the storm was impressive and created a chaotic atmosphere, which was perfect for this moment of the play. I had trouble working out what time period this adaption was set in, and I would have preferred a bolder atmosphere.
The Richmond Theatre is a lovely venue. It’s a traditional theatre with classical sculptures embedded in the walls of the upper level and uses a proscenium stage (where the audience is placed on one side of the stage). The only downsides we’re that the room was pretty cold, and the ice cream a little pricey. The temperature of the theatre added to the experience, however since the second half of the play was set during a storm.
The ending of the play was poignant. It’s a moment of pure, primal grief when Lear is mourning over his youngest daughters dead body. The atmosphere in the room was definitely different to when the play began.
A line that has stuck with me is that we must ‘Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.’
Go and see this if you want to learn something about life.
Author: William Shakespeare
Directors: Max Webster
Box Office: 0844 871 7677
Booking Until: 14 May 2016