NT Live: King Lear - 4 Stars
This latest production of Shakespeare’s classic is powerful, but has a few minor flaws.
Shakespearian veteran Simon Russell Beale played Lear and he really encaptured the character’s madness and unpredictability. However, at the start of the play Lear is supposed to be strong and in control, but Beale started the play as a weak Lear and that left him nowhere to take his portrayal for the majority of the first half.
The production overall was strong with an amazing, minimalist set from designer Anthony Ward and a great lighting design by Paul Pyant that really highlighted the actors’ expressions at crucial moments. Director Sam Mendes decided to modernise the play, while he obviously didn’t change the text, the costumes, set and sound effects came from the present day. This certainly didn’t detract from the Shakespearian text and often made it easier to understand the story. Very cleverly Mendes also made a subtle link between the war at the end of the play and World War II. Edmund (a character who is key in the war) had blonde hair, blue eyes and was dressed in a uniform similar to the Nazis. These subtle modern references were well placed and showed the depth of thinking from the director.
The ensemble cast was strong with notable standouts being Sam Troughton as Edmund and Olivia Vinall as Cordellia. The remainder of the leading cast was also outstanding with Adrian Scarborough as the Fool and an incredible performance from Stephen Boxer as the Earl of Gloucester. Boxer’s character had his eyes gauged out during the first act and was blind with a bloodstained face during the second act. He convinced everyone in the cinema (and the audience) that these atrocious events had taken place and I think he will be up for a Olivier award next year!
Overall a strong production that has proved to be outstandingly popular in cinemas and is having encore screenings at Palace Nova Cinemas around Australia this week (check here for details: http://www.palacecinemas.com.au).
Don’t forget that Palace Nova Cinemas regularly screens special live events from around the world! Over the next few months West End’s Ghost will be screening and later in August Monty Python’s One Down, Five To Go will be playing a limited cinematic run! More details and productions are available on the Palace Nova website!
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Movie screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas