Ruth Leon recommends….King Lear – Ian Mckellen

Ruth Leon recommends….King Lear – Ian Mckellen

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

September 22, 2022

King Lear – Ian Mckellen

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The Chichester Festival Theatre’s stunning production of Shakespeare’s King Lear with Ian McKellen as the King is now available on the National Theatre’s platform. Directed by Jonathan Mumby, this is a modern dress production set in a fantasy British court where each character, marvellously played, is delineated in precise black and white terms and where each has a ‘back story’ that illuminates their characters.

McKellen’s Lear is the crowning achievement of his celebrated career, at once an intimate study of old age and arrogance, and a detailed examination of the compassion that emerges when confronted with hardship and pain.

No stranger to what has been called the greatest tragedy ever written – he has played Lear before, in a much-lauded 2007 Royal Shakespeare production as well as a well-received Edgar in 1974 and Kent in 1990 – but throughout this Chichester production his familiarity with the nuance in each line of the text is demonstrated. He knows his Lear, with all his foibles and shortcomings, and is not afraid to expose them to our scrutiny.

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