Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Johnathan Miller
Reviewer: Vicki Goodwin
Family conflicts are a common occurrence for most of us, yet thankfully few happen on the scale of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Unhappy with what the King sees as a lack of fatherly devotion in his youngest daughter Cordelia, he feels compelled to rather brutally cut her off, foolishly placing his future comfort in the hands of her snake-like sisters, Goneril and Regan.
The King is expertly depicted by the brilliant Barrie Rutter, who first found himself portraying the unhinged monarch over a decade ago. Under the skilled direction of Johnathan Miller, Rutter approaches his rôle with a complete understanding of the multiple layers that comprise the aging King. Wildly emotional from the outset, we journey with Rutter from terrifying leader to a man gripped by senility. A King who has crumbled his kingdom through his own egotistical preening.
Rutter is joined by the fantastic Fine Time Fontayne, as the Fool who refuses to bend to the whims of the King, choosing instead to highlight his many faults and wrong doings. They make a superb double act, their moments together on stage are a joy to behold. Special mention must also go to Al Bollands mesmerising turn as the evil Edmund; a personal favourite in this production in which each actor excells.
King Lear can seem daunting to those not well versed in Shakespeare’s writing. The long acts and overlapping themes sometimes have a tendency to discourage audiences who would probably thoroughly enjoy the play from giving it a try. Happily Northern Broadsides have presented a stripped back version of the Bard’s tragedy that feels easily accessible to all. Briskly paced and with no complicated set changes, we are presented with a minimalist approach to each scene which gives us the space to focus on the characters themselves. This is a company which understands that the beauty of Shakespeare’s work is that it can and should work in any surrounding, and here on the stage of the Playhouse, it certainly does.
Runs until 2nd May | Photo Nobby Clark