King Lear – August 2010


By William Shakespeare

Directed by David Farr

Venue: Courtyard Theatre

Date: Friday 20th August 2010

What a difference from the first performance we saw in February. The set wasn’t so intrusive, perhaps because we were used to it, although there may have been some changes. But the main change was in the performances, which were much more detailed and authoritative throughout. The opening scene, particularly, worked brilliantly this time for me, with Lear clearly trying to wheedle a ‘loving’ response from Cordelia so as not to ruin his planned praise-fest. Greg Hicks had told us at the Summer School this morning that he had now learned to speak more directly to the audience, for regular dialogue as well as soliloquies, and the change was amazing. I also agreed with Greg Hicks that Lear already has the seeds of madness in him at the start of the play; here we get to see those seeds sprouting very quickly.

For the very start, Edgar was on stage, hunkered down at the back. He stood up and walked to the centre of the stage, looking at the flickering light. Cordelia and the other characters for the first scene also came on, looking the same way. Suddenly, Edgar broke off, and ran off stage at the back. The rest of the cast formed up, and the play began. I reckon this was the way it started back in February, I just forgot that detail when I was writing my notes (and I probably didn’t realise it was Edgar we were seeing, either).

Several of the lines came across more clearly, and with much greater meaning tonight. Both Cordelia and Edmund have improved their delivery enormously – their accents made their dialogue seem very flat before, but they’ve got more flexibility into their voices.

Greg mentioned the possibility of incest this morning, and while it wasn’t emphasised, there was much too much physical contact between him and Regan when he’s talking with her at Gloucester’s place. I was also aware of how unreasonable his behaviour was, and what sort of strain that could put his daughters under, which would explain a lot about their attitudes to him.

No changes to the staging that we noticed, so the improvement is entirely down to the acting. I’m looking forward to seeing this again, probably when they open the new theatre, and hopefully I’ll be in better health so I can enjoy the performance even more.

© 2010 Sheila Evans at

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