|Greg Doran's RSC production of King Lear|
A play for our times
|Oliver Johnstone as Edgar, Antony Sher as Lear, David Troughton as Gloucester, Antony Byrne as Kent, Paapa Essiedu as Edmund, Natalie Simpson as Cordelia|
Reason not the need
|Faithful (disguised) son Edgar leading blinded (deceived) father Gloucester|
EnoughHow much is enough? How much (Money? Shelter? Clean Water? Food? Safety? Entertainment?) is enough to live a civilised life? How much money does a banker need to live a happy life? How much welfare does a disabled veteran need to survive with dignity? What about a rich and generous benefactor who gives plenty to charity? Or an unemployed drug addict who is suffering because of parental abuse? Who has the right to make judgements about what rich people do with their money or who can judge the vulnerable person who relies on the state to keep them alive? Well…. Governments claims the right by taking and using taxes from workers and loans from financial institutions. Governments make judgements and then create legal and financial policies based on those judgements. The government distributes the country’s revenue as a result of the judgements they make. Like King Lear. Lear makes judgements in the first scene of the play and the consequent unfolding tragedy destroys the kingdom and his three daughters as well as himself.
|Faces of Antony Sher: as Richard III, as Tamburlaine, as The Roman Actor, as Macbeth with Harriet Walter, as Falstaff, as Leontes with Alexandra Gilbreath as Hermione|
|Antony Sher's own painting of himself as The Fool and with his Lear, Michael Gambon, as the modern tragic hero-fool, Willy Loman, and now, as Lear, with his own Fool, Graham Turner|
Gwynne, Williams, SimpsonWhere is a girl’s mother when you need her? The three sisters (Nia Gwynne as Goneril, Kelly Williams as Regan and Natalie Simpson as Cordelia) all suggested complicated back stories of the need to be loved by their omnipotent (but old-fashioned) father. The elder two daughters were definitely more “sinned against than sinning” in the first half of the play. Goneril’s anxiety and Regan’s desperation were more affecting than Cordelia’s rather steely “I know I’m right” attitude in the opening love trial, which made the arcs of the three sisters more complicated than usual. By the end Cordelia broke my heart and the emerging viciousness of Goneril and Regan was palpable but the opening scenes of this production didn’t foreground the final destination of the sisters. Excellent interpretations.
|Nia Gwynne as Goneril, Natalie Simpson as Cordelia, Kelly Williams as Regan|
Byrne, Troughton, Essiedu, JohnstoneAntony Byrne was a convincingly loyal (“blunt and saucy”) Kent. The magnificent David Troughton was a tough, vigorous and then traumatised (blinded) Gloucester and his sons were memorable: Paapa Essiedu fresh from Hamlet, was an insinuating and attractive Edmund and Oliver Johnstone, topping even his sensual Iachimo in Cymbeline, was a gullible and then truly heroic Edgar, both in his Poor Tom disguise and his knight-protector role, duelling his half-brother Edmund to Edmund’s death. (“The wheel is come full circle.”) Sometimes at the end of King Lear I feel that the remaining world will not be safe in Edgar’s hands but at the end of this production I felt Oliver Johnstone had taken his father’s words into his heart:
So distribution should undo excess,Long Live King Edgar!
And each man have enough.