King Lear – March 2011


By: William Shakespeare

Directed by: David Farr

Venue: RST

Date: Thursday 24th March 2011

Having reviewed my earlier notes, I’m glad to say I did enjoy this performance more than the earlier ones. Again, we didn’t notice any significant changes to the staging, although as Kathryn Hunter had left the company, we got to see Sophie Russell playing the Fool as part of the regular cast. She’d certainly come on for the practice, and I reckon I enjoyed this Fool the best, with the dialogue coming across very clearly throughout.

The improvement was again down to the actors having greater understanding of their parts, coupled with more experience of working with each other in lots of different spaces, and I suspect there may even be a boost from the new theatre itself, an adrenalin rush to be opening the new house that we’ve waited for for so long. I certainly felt the set fitted very well into the new space, and although the new stage is smaller than the Courtyard, the action didn’t seem cramped at all. Unlike the poor people sitting in the front row round this side, who complained of a lack of leg room.

I’m not sure if Cordelia and Edmund’s delivery had improved since we saw this back in August; my notes remind me that their vocal skills were better then. It’s possible they’ve come on even more since that performance, though my aural memory isn’t good enough to tell.

James Gale wasn’t in it tonight, but I’ll have to check the programs to see what’s happened there. [We found out he’d also left the company, although this was due to ill-health, sadly.]

Anyway, a marvellous performance, which I felt took me to a very dark place, and brought me back again, just. I had some tears at the usual places, and I found I didn’t mind that some people were laughing at Lear’s mad behaviour when he meets Gloucester, while I was simply moved to compassion by his suffering. I also felt that cutting Edgar’s lines here was right, as the two ‘old men’ were providing all the emotional input that was needed; Edgar’s comments would have been a distraction. Greg Hicks was magnificent as Lear, really getting into the emotions of the part, and I’m very glad we saw this one last time.

© 2011 Sheila Evans at

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