Review of King Lear performed by the Bell Shakespeare Company

King Lear is widely recognised as one of Shakespeare’s great plays if not the greatest.  Every actor dreams to play what is the best part in Shakespeare.  The Bell Shakespeare Company is performing King Lear this year and last Sunday I want to see it.

It was the first time I had been to the Seed Theatre at the new Neilson Nutshell Complex located at the end of Piers 2&3 off Hickson Road.   I must give a shout out to Keir Neilson who funded the project.  It is an outstanding addition to the Sydney Arts Scene.  It is a theatre in the round with great seats.  I have attended the Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank and left at the intermission because of the uncomfortable seating.

For this performance there is a perfect black circle at the centre of the stage which when you enter are told to avoid.  According to the program the circle first represents a Black Hole where the gravity inside it is so strong that nothing can escape—it sucks in everything, even light.  Nothing is one of great themes of Lear with 34 references to the word itself beginning with Cordelia’s answer to Lear and his famous reply “Nothing will come of nothing” as he disowns her.

The tragedy of Lear is that it fails to be redemptive.   There is no happy ending.  It promises redemption and doesn’t give it.  At the end of the play the two people left on the stage alive gave their loyalty to people who are now dead.  Their loyalty was futile.

However the program does provide another message from the play that again refers to the black circle.  Now you should think of it as the pupil of an eye which is accentuated by the rolled-gold flooring of the stage.  All through the play there are examples of characters suddenly seeing reality.  Mark Twain summed it best: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

As to the performances my three favourites were thirdly Robert Menzies who offers us a suitably petulant, tetchy Lear.  Second was Darius Williams  who plays the conniving Edmund bastard son of the loyal Earl of Gloucester and one of Shakespeare’s most underappreciated villains,   My favourite was Tamara Lee Bailey who played Regan to perfection.  She has real presence and I am sure we will be hearing more about her in the future.

I am currently offering a Free Copy of The Humm Handbook: Lifting Your Level of Emotional Intelligence to anyone who requests it.  King Lear is one of the five plays I discuss in the book.  I analyse all the key characters using the 7MTF and provide some good lessons for managers. If you just want an e-copy of that section it there is a Kindle e-book The Emotional Intelligence of King Lear available.




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