King Lear … mesmerising McKellen

When I went: 23 August 2018

Music Owl Hoot rating: 4/5

Location: Duke of York’s Theatre, London

Performers: Ian McKellen (Lear), Sinéad Cusack (Kent), Danny Webb (Gloucester), Kirsty Bushell (Regan), James Corrigan (Edmund), Lloyd Hutchinson (Fool), Claire Price (Goneril), Luke Thompson (Edgar), Anita-Joy Uwajeh (Cordelia), Anthony Howell (Albany), Richard Clews (Gentleman Infomer / Old Man), John Hastings (Curan / Doctor), Daniel Rabin (Cornwall), Scott Sparrow (Albany’s Man), Jake Mann (Burgundy / Lear’s Knight), Michael Matus (Oswald), Caleb Roberts (King of France)

Creative team: Shakespeare (playwright), Paul Wills (set design), Ben Ringham and Paul Ringham (music and sound), Lucy Cullingford (movement direction), Kate Waters (fight direction), Jonathan Munby (director)

Approximate price: £125

Special points: Special effects and costumes

Best bit: End of first half

If I could change one thing: Shorter


The play:

I’ve seen my share of celebrity Shakespeare (Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest, David Tennant in Hamlet, David Tennant (again) and Catherine Tate in Much Ado about Nothing) and I tend to prefer the comedies … maybe I just don’t have the attention span or staying power for the tragedies, but to me they often feel a bit overwrought and way too long. I did feel a bit this way about King Lear, although I appreciated that it had plenty of wit as well and some killer lines (“that way madness lies”).

This performance:

If I had enjoyed the play itself more, I would have given this 5 hoots as the performances were great and the staging and effects (including rain and lightning) were brilliant. The costumes were also really sharp and made the play feel more modern despite the setting.

Ian McKellen was mesmerising in the title role and had top support from pretty much everyone, especially Kirsty Bushell as the over-sexualised and crazy Regan (think Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). James Corrigan as Edmund also stood out for his nuanced performance.

2 thoughts on “King Lear … mesmerising McKellen

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