King Lear is the most powerful individual in the Kingdom looking to retire from his royal duties. In order for his Kingdom to thrive long after his reign, he takes it upon himself to determine who will gain the majority of his Estate…
However, in order for King Lear to do so, he must see which of his three ‘devoted’ daughters is the most deserving. They must all pit against each other to declare which of the three loves him the most. Enraged by Cordelia, his most favoured daughter’s straightforward, non poetic response, he rewards both Regan and Goneril his Kingdom, but is this for the best?
As soon as the piece began, the intimate dynamics of the Space Theatre were instantly brought alive by the use of song to create the feeling of a proud united nation. It was clear that as an audience member, you were now in King Lear’s territory. Traditionally played by a male actor, the Lazarus Theatre Company’s choice of having a female King Lear was not only a breath of fresh air but a brilliant way to highlight just how relevant and universal Shakespeare’s writing is. Jennifer Shakesby’s portrayal of King Lear was authoritative, regal and a force to be reckoned with.
The play was forever shifting, constantly beaming with the cast of 27 actors. The ensemble were brilliant, especially when it came to depicting King Lear’s descent into madness as I felt these image based moments in particular really helped to bring the text to life. Set in the round, the negative was that some reactions were lost due to actors having their backs towards the audience, but the positive was that the action was happening not only on stage but around the theatre as well. There would be moments where you could see the performers respond but could hear the speeches around you, which was very powerful and in a sense quite filmic, as if the character’s fates were determined by these voiceovers. Another great show by the Lazarus Theatre Company, and therefore I give it a 4/5.
Directed by Ricky Dukes