King Lear


Classical theatre

Almeida Theatre

Until Sat Nov 3 2012

Jonathan Pryce as King Lear, Almeida Theatre. Photo Credit Keith Pattison E.jpg

Jonathan Pryce (King Lear) © Keith Pattison

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
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1 person listening

Pryce stupendous. Great to see a properly, dramatically acted play, with time given to pauses. Even the convoluted fools lines were made understandable. Excellent direction. This was Shakespeare's vision fully realised. A pity The Globe could not match this quality, with Richard III garbled, dull and under-acted. Thank you Jonathan, glad to see a sell-out.

Jo Murphy

Sorry, but that is a very lame review. Here's my effort: The dour brick warehouse walls of the Almeida invite productions as solid to match their unforgiving quality. I found that Pryce's Lear, and his Geordie Fool, (Trevor Fox) delivered searing, thoughtful and emotionally profound performances in a very mixed cast. What is this fashion, these days, for uniformly casting rather underpowered, spindly men? The cast was, in the main, not up to Pryce's subtleties as a performer. Kent, (Ian Gelder) was strong, (if spindly, Kent should match Lear's dimensions), Goneril, (Zoe Waites) was wily and gesturally astute, her sisters were so-so and we need, surely, tangible venom from these women! Attenborough's disastrous decision to make Edmund, (Kieran Bew) a jeering, shallow Yorkshireman set against Gloucester's slightly irate courtier-father, (Clive Wood), left the subtext in tatters and worse, emasculated what should be Edmund's all too belated but heartfelt desire to return to grace by saving Cordelia, (decently played by Phoebe Fox). Gloucester was hopelessly under-powered: where was the shock at being made privy to Edgar's treason? Where was the shaking agony at having his eyes put out? His body and his hands moved not at all. Edmund's throwaway 'just-outtathepub-off-'ome' attitude to the bastardy that eviscerates him utterly eclipsed what should be his violently embittered need to revenge himself on father and brother. Edgar's Poor Tom, (Richard Goulding), was convincing but the brothers’ stilted sword-fight at the play’s close was like a waltz with swords used like Morris Mens’ batons: just a bit 'girly.' The lighting and thunderstorm were, at times, majestic but there were odd and, to my mind, unnecessary touches: the green plastic plant 'growing' from the floorboards just before the interval? The funniest - and most unnecessary touch of all - was the big fat soft toy look-what-I-won-at-fair-deer brought in and hung after the hunting scene, replete with fake-slit-throat-blood coming out but just for a second or two, (speaking even as a vegetarian that ruddy great animal would have provided the whole of West Riding with blood sausage): really silly and almost undermined Pryce's complex and at times, great, performance. Worth flocking to, though, even if there's only one of you.


Pryce was phenomenal. I shan't see a better version of Lear in my lifetime. Thank you Mr. Attenborough, the cast and rest of crew.

Dyonne Pen

I will never be able to go see a King Lear again because it can only disappoint after this perforance. Amazing performance. Pryce was terrific.