King Lear: Shakespeare till 28 August

King Lear: William Shakespeare
RSC, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 3.5 hours, one interval, till 26 August
Review: Rod Dungate, 02.03.10

Measured, but in no way too long.
Greg Hicks, always watchable, is in absolute top form in this David Farr production. His journey is huge and dramatic. In the early court this King takes his time; this Lear knows the world moves to his beat. He focuses everything on himself – even his voice is consciously dramatic in it’s deep bass register. As Lear loses his majesty, so his voice shifts into a lighter, more natural, register. He looks so much older, too, and his need for love becomes more urgent.

Kathryn Hunter’s Fool can be summed up in a single word – stunning. It’s as beautifully conceived as it is both moving and disturbing. What kind of being is this? we must ask ourselves of this diminutive figure – a boy, a man, hermaphrodite, special needs in some way? This Fool truly is both naive and wise, mysterious and magical.

And the relationship between Lear and the Fool dominates (to great positive effect) the first half. I have never been so moved by this relationship.

Farr’s production offers us a dark world staggering towards the fag-end of its days. Solidly created in Jon Bausor’s sets, a sense of foreboding is omnipresent. Farr occasionally pushes things too far, though; the lights crackle a bit too often, his early scene cross-fades are too self aware, moments of deconstruction sometimes too obvious.

A strong company, for the most part. Darrell d’Silva skilfully combines toughness and no-nonsense warmth in Kent, while Geoffrey Freshwater’s Gloucester is a thoroughly decent man caught up in horrendous events that eventually destroy him.

Samantha Young never quite fills out the quiet authority Cordelia requires and Tunji Kasim, sadly, gives as much direction to Edmund as would a fish out of water.

King Lear: Greg Hicks
Goneril: Kelly Hunter
Regan: Katy Stephens
Cordelia: Samantha Young
Duke of Albany: John MacKay
Duke of Cornwall: Clarence Smith
King of France: Brian Doherty
Duke of Burgundy: Ansu Kabia
Earl of Kent: Darrell D’Silva
Earl of Gloucester: Geoffrey Freshwater
Edgar: Charles Aitken
Edmund: Tunji Kasim
Old Man: Larrington Walker
Curan: Peter Shorey
Fool Kathryn Hunter
Oswald: james Tucker
Doctor: Phillip EdgerleyLear’s Gentleman: James Gale
Messenger: Adam Burton
Cornwall’s Man: Paul Hamilton
Herald: Ansu Kabia
Captain: Adam Burton
Knights: Adam Burton, Phillip Edgerley, Paul Hamilton, Peter Shorey, Sandy Neilson, Larrington Walker
Nurse: Sophie Russell, Hannah Young

Directed by: David Farr
Designed by: Jon Bausor
Lighting designed by: Jon Clark
Music by: Keith Clouston
Sound Designed by: Christopher Shutt
Movement by: Ann Yee
Fights by: Kate Waters
Company Text and Voice Work by: Lyn Darnley

2010-03-04 15:33:07

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