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King Lear - Young People's Shakespeare (Southampton)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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When asked during the post-show talk of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest Young People’s Shakespeare offering, King Lear, I rather struggled to find a moment that stood out for me.

The idea of setting the story of an old king’s struggle against his daughters in a modern Christmas should provoke some interesting and radical translations for the children. Indeed the jolly old Lear now imagines himself as Santa in his sleigh with his Fool dressed up in a reindeer suit. However the setting becomes merely a dressing for what is a shortened version of the text.

In addition, as Lear Paul Copley lacks the character’s rage and emotion that drives his downfall, and a number of the cast members are rather dull. Matt Sutton for one, does not get any laughter as the Fool. Some do stand out, such as Dharmesh Patel as Edgar, sporting a hoodie, as Poor Tom.

There are some interesting ideas. Matt Sutton for one, plays the Duke of Kent and the Fool combined, thereby connecting the characters’ points-of-view. Yet in simplifying the text the cast lose the emotion that motivates this story and creates a rather dull production.


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