Saturday, September 30

Lear Alone – The Space Triplex

And Tomorrow Theatre Company brings us Lear Alone: a modern-day take on street living, aging and the modern scourge of dementia in all its guises. It was originally an award-winning Web Series shot on the streets of London. The punitive Covid lockdown saw the homeless finally safe inside, but the arts and artists were crippled and bound by isolation.  And Tomorrow is creating work that can be presented both digitally and on stage in our post-pandemic landscape.

The company is working with CRISIS to highlight the plight of homeless individuals in our relatively wealthy society. They have funding from The Arts Council, Screensaver, Elysium Theatre Company, Entire, Tricolore, Theater Auf’m Kahn, Berlin, Actors and Writers London and The So & So Club.

Directed by Anthony Shrubsall, this piece delivers Shakespeare’s words with relevance and poignancy. Edmund Dehn is a well-kent face and voice with a long list of former credits. His Lear is a feat of memory and energy. Thankfully, he didn’t declaim but chose to show this former King’s confusion, vulnerability and deterioration as a simple man alone, losing his wits and whereabouts. 

I’m not a fan of King Lear, having been taken a very long way (there and back) on a school night to see a production at Stratford. Aged, sixteen, I thought Lear a fool who got exactly what he deserved – he wanted his cake and eat it: no responsibilities but all the perks. And he has that terrible weakness for flattery which turns him cruel. And, my God, it’s serious, isn’t it? Relentlessly serious.

This version was also serious. How could it not be? But it felt more real. The spectre of a man talking to air, hearing unspoken responses, insensible to the disembodied telephone voice asking if he’s okay, was truthful for so many elderly men and women in today’s society where families are nuclear and adult children are busy with their own offspring. Two incomes are now necessary to meet the bills; daughters and sons too busy to care and shelter their wider family. Spouses aren’t so keen on sheltering their in-laws. And couples are just that – a team. Husbands often have the final say, leaving daughters to choose who their loyalty lies with. 

It’s a tragedy for a reason. There for the grace of God …

Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield

Reviewed: 10th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.