Timothy West takes on the title role in English Touring Theatre's new production of Shakespeare's King Lear, which opens a UK tour tonight, 23 September 2002, at Malvern before continuing to 11 further venues until 14 December.

West's last outing in the classic Shakespeare tragedy was in 1997, playing Gloucester to Ian Holm's monarch in the acclaimed National theatre production that was also filmed for the BBC. A veteran of the RSC, National and the West End, West's other recent stage credits include ETT's The Master Builder, Luther at the National and, appearing opposite his wife Prunella Scales, The Birthday Party and The External.

West's many television appearances have includes Brass, Murder in Mind and Bedtime, while on film, he's been seen in Iris, The Day of the Jackal, Joan of Arc and Ever After.

West is joined in the cast of King Lear by Dominic Rickhards (Coronation St and Night and Day), David Cardy (Birds Of A Feather), Garry Cooper (film of Beautiful Thing), Patrick Drury (Father Ted) and Jessica Turner (TV's Dr Finlay and Mill on the Floss).

King Lear is English Touring Theatre's third production this year, following critically acclaimed outings of Ibsen's Ghosts and the premiere of Peter Gill's The York Realist, which transferred to the Royal Court and on to the West End's Strand Theatre.

For this new production, ETT's artistic director Stephen Unwin has radically simplified the text of Shakespeare's masterpiece - in terms of both stage directions and punctuation - with the aim of allowing actors, directors and other readers to approach the play afresh.

King Lear is directed by Unwin and designed by Neil Warmington, with costumes by Mark Bouman, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Olly Fox. Following Malvern, the production will visit Aberdeen, Norwich, Buxton, Truro, Salford, Coventry, Cambridge, Durham, York, Brighton and Bradford.

- by Terri Paddock


TO WIN TICKETS & PLAYTEXTS FOR ETT'S KING LEAR ON TOUR, PLEASE CLICK HERE. COMPETITION ENDS 11 OCTOBER 2002.