On stage, Courtenay appeared most recently as one of the original three-man cast in the West End production of Yasmina Reza s Art, which has been playing at Wyndham s Theatre since October 1996. His other extensive theatre credits include the one-man show Moscow Stations in London and New York (for which he won Evening Standard and Critics Circle awards) as well as his award-winning performance in the Royal Exchange production of The Dresser (which was turned into a major feature film after transfers to London and New York). Courtenay s film credits include The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Billy Liar, Doctor Zhivago, and Let Him Have It. Earlier this year, he received a BAFTA Best Actor award for his performance in the BBC television drama A Rather English Marriage.
Courtenay is joined in the 17-strong cast of King Lear by Gillian Kearney (as Cordelia), Helen Schlesinger (Goneril), Ashley Jensen (Regan), Ian Bartholomew (the Fool) and David Tennant (Edgar).
King Lear is directed by Royal Exchange artistic director Gregory Hersov, who most recently directed the National Theatre s current production of John Osborne s Look Back in Anger, starring Michael Sheen. Hersov also co-directed the Royal Exchange s production of the Marx Brothers comedy Animal Crackers, which toured and transferred to the West End and directed numerous other Royal Exchange productions including A View from the Bridge, The Road to Mecca and The Misfits.