King Lear: A Review



The 80-year-old King Lear divides his kingdom among his daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, according to their affection for him. Cordelia refuses to flatter him, so he banishes her. Having acquired power, Goneril and Regan expel their father from their homes. At the same time, Lear's prime minister, Gloucester, is betrayed by his son Edmund. And so both State and Family descend into treachery, betrayal and murder.


It is a vicious and fearful tale that strikes terror into your heart. Lear’s descent into madness in itself is terrifying to behold.


On Bank Holiday Monday the BBC gave us this famous Shakespeare play and if you didn’t record it or watch it is available on the iPlayer.


lear-glenda.jpgGlenda Jackson "transcended gender" to play King Lear. Photo by MANUEL HARLAN


When they mess with Shakespeare it is always a gamble. In setting it in modern times where Knights become our army and battles are fought with jets and mortars it is a risk. In this case, it not only paid off but brought home in a fresh way the terrors held within this play. It isn’t for the faint hearted the blinding of the Earl of Gloucester is particularly gruesome and you may want to avert your eyes.


It was first performed in 1606 on St Stephen’s day. In the period after the restoration, the play was altered to take away the bleak and desolate ending but no longer, as has been the custom for many many decades the ending is now as it was written by Shakespeare.


This BBC production has a stunning menacing soundtrack and a stellar cast of British talent. Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Ecclestone and many more.


lear-clown.jpgRhys Ifans plays the Fool in a stellar cast. Photo by MANUEL HARLAN


It is a tremendously powerful film adaptation of one of the great plays.


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About the author
Catholic, Bibliophile,Cinephile, Deltiologist and Casual Philatelist. All things Apple, Been online since 1983.