King Lear at the Almeida Theatre, part of the World Shakespeare Festival, opened to press last night (11 September 2012).The production stars stage veteran Jonathan Pryce as the eponymous king, with a supporting cast that includes Jenny Jules, Phoebe Fox, Zoe Waites, Kieran Bew, Michael Byrne, Steven Elliott, Ian Gelder and Richard Goulding.
Directed by Michael Attenborough, it runs until 3 November 2012.
Jonathan Pryce brings an impressive mix of tenderness, quivering insecurity and raw passion... Michael Attenborough’s production is lucid, well-spoken and confidently paced (though hardly short). On a fine, forbidding set by Tom Scutt, it feels loaded with imagery of furtiveness and repression – but has a satisfying directness... There’s assured support from Clive Wood as Gloucester, whose blinding is as powerful a scene as ever, and from Trevor Fox as a gruff Fool who fancies himself as a bit of conjurer. Wood’s Gloucester appears weak but not bumbling; Fox’s Fool is a channel for the play’s darker thoughts... Kieran Bew’s Edmund bristles with masculinity, and Richard Goulding as his abused and ostracized brother Edgar has a touch of loucheness and plenty of spirit but also an air of vulnerability.
This Lear seems little more than a vain and testy old buffer when his rage ought to terrify. His horrible curse of Goneril lacks the required venomous intensity... But when Lear’s wits really do begin to turn, Pryce suddenly becomes both thrilling and deeply moving... Attenborough’s production, set within the courtyard of a crumbling brick castle and with costumes that sometimes look as though they have been borrowed from the Ladybird Book of Medieval Dress... The acting is uneven too. Phoebe Fox’s petulant Cordelia is the least moving ...But Ian Gelder beautifully captures Kent’s dogged loyalty and devotion.. there are strong performances from Zoe Waites and Jenny Jules ...Kieran Bew, who discovers welcome humour in the role of Edmund.