Theatre Royal Brighton | until Saturday 7th May
The King of Shakespeare’s plays
King Lear | Review
It’s the perfect time to delve into some of Shakespeare’s greatest works as we as a nation commemorate the death of one of Britain’s greatest writers 400 years ago.
King Lear is a great exhibition which showcases his craftsmanship, and to experience it at Brighton’s Theatre Royal was a real treat as it has that wonderful vintage feel that adds to the overall ambience of the evening.
Although I admit the length of the play can prove slightly challenging to the average theatre goer, watching King Lear’s descent into madness is truly mesmerising and is well worth the investment, Michael Pennington took the lead and made it his own, he was spot on from beginning to end, with a strong cast overall that gave flawless performances. He has after all previously taken on the roles of Richard II, Henry V, Leontes, MacBeth and Hamlet, and this adds to his list of distinctive and gripping performances.
The set was very impressive, simple yet easily interchangeable. The most iconic scene of the play was recreated excellently, where King Lear’s rage peaked, the pathetic fallacy was put to great use as thunder and lightning engulfed the audience, who were all swept away in the storm physically and caught up in the whirlwind of emotions that stirred.
The story begins with King Lear, an ageing tyrant whose decision to divide his Kingdom tears his family apart, igniting civil war with consequences so great it destroys everything he has built. Driven from his home, the seeds of madness are set in motion and they grow as he endures great suffering, but with madness he discovers loyalty, and through his pain a better world seems to emerge for him. Although the plot may be dark, you can expect Shakespeare’s usual humour throughout with the use of the fool to ease the tension and lighten the mood throughout.
If you love Shakespeare, or want to dip into one of his greatest works, then you need to come along to this excellent production. It plays at the Theatre Royal until 7th May as part of a national UK tour.
Reviewer : Stephen Sheldrake
Photos (c) Marc Brenner