King Lear at the Almeida

September 27, 2012

Overdosing on Shakespeare, we went to see Jonathan Pryce as King Lear. I have to admit I wasn’t looking as forward to it as I had been Twelfth Night. But I really enjoyed Pryce’s performance as a tyrannical, abusing father who flicks between seeming good grace and humour and vengeful, threatening animosity. His madness and moments of lucidity made him more human and vulnerable than previous productions I’ve seen.

Unfortunately none of his three daughters (or their husbands) did anything for me, and these are key roles and relationships to make this play ignite. But their acting was somewhat overegged and one-dimensional. Which is a real shame as this prodcution introduced the idea that Lear had abused his daughters, and would do so again if he didn’t get his way.

The fool was excellent, as was Gloucester who gets his eyes gouged out, and the lighting made me truly believe there was a raging storm – wonderful. Edmund too deserves praise for his humour and lightness of touch that endeared himself to us. The first ‘half’ –  90 minutes – is  much better than the second  – 50 minutes – which seems to enter in to a world of ham acting and comedy simply to tie up lose ends and get it over with. I might have rested my eyelids for a moment during one of the numerous deaths. But over all three stars. Good, but not great.

And the seats in the Almeida are bloody uncomfotable for a production as long as this!


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