Tuesday, April 23

King Lear – Almedia Theatre

Tour de force contextualising King Lear in the here and now. 

Yaël Farber’s directed recreations of Shakespeare have become synonymous with memorable action from the actors and actresses, moody lights and deep witnessing of self and others.  The earthy elements of the wind, rain and soil are brought alive on stage with outstanding craftsmanship. Max Perryment’s music is brought centre stage by the talented actors and actresses who break into songs and by the infinite variety of instruments on stage and in the background. The violinist often contoured in inverted postures, usually a background in position but centre stage by adding additional flavourful notes. 

Set designer Merle Hensel’s delicate shimmering cascading fine chains curtain provides an aesthetic background with some captivating light choices by Lee Curran, creating a sense of movement across different locations in the scenes. 

It always compounds me how Shakespeare is so timeless in its content. This production mirrors our time with its modern costumes and subtle metaphors sprinkled across the play. One moment, you have King Lear asking his daughters on multiple loud microphones to publicly profess their love for him. The other moment, the king cannot comprehend why they won’t keep giving in to careless behaviour. Akin to a bunch of politicians. One moment, you have Cordelia, played by the bewitching Gloria Obianyo, standing tall in her nonbinary attire, and the next moment, you have her in uniform, subtly calling out British imperialism. 

Photo: Marc Brenner

King Lear’s slow descent into madness with Danny Sapani’s award-nominating depiction of the role, you feel his anger, agony, pain, grief and gut-wrenching cry. His presence on stage is magnetic. 

They were superbly interjected by the fool played by Clarke Peters, whose disarming smile and lines untied the knots in one’s back. 

The three sisters Goneril, Cordelia and Regal, played convincingly by Akiya Henry, Gloria Obianyo and Faith Omole, bring the critical representation of Black Women on stage. Each of them is convincing in portraying their distraction from the values expected from them. They also play to the emotions between sisters, from jealousy to concern. Also, it is such a breath of fresh air to see the normalisation of women’s sexual interests. 

The Tragedy of Earl of Gloucester, brought to life by Michael Gould, tugs at one’s heartstrings, and the irony of his love makes him blind. However, while being blind, finding love for his dear son, Edgar, played sincerely by Matthew Tennyson. 

The three-and-a-half-hour production does justice to unpacking the plot surely and steadily. The length and breadth of human emotion and contradictions are revelled in conflict and lust.  

One can’t stop admiring this stellar cast and team, and I can’t recommend enough catching tickets before March 2024. https://almeida.co.uk/whats-on/king-lear/

Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil 

Reviewed: 20th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.