Staying True To The Spirit of Theatre
It’s questionable if you will ever trust another theatre company with King Lear after you see what director Antoni Cimolino does to the story in the Stratford Festival’s breathtaking presentation this summer. The retelling of the legend of The Leir of Britain is often considered one of the greatest tragedies the Bard ever wrote and this one pierces like a long, sharp sword.
After many years of ruling as the King of Britain, the childish and self-centred King Lear decides that it’s time to hand over his crown to one of his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. But upon examining his daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the love for their own father, Lear changes his mind and concludes that none of them are worthy on the royal throne.
Seeing that they’ll never gain power by being the king’s children, the oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, hatch a plan to overthrow the king and cease his power. When the daughter’s put their plan into force (with the help of the king’s backstabbing army), Lear is driven away from his castle and forced on the run, stumbling through the muddy countryside during a journey that will lead to his decent into insanity.
This interpretation of King Lear is really an amazing production to watch. Rather than making this a big budget staging, this presentation stays true to the spirit of the theatre in a simple and effective style.
Colm Feore in the title role gives a five star performance as a childish king who struck by insanity because of being pushed into a world that’s no as ideal as his castle walls. Stephen Ouimette is unbelievably amusing as The Fool with Scott Wentworth blowing you away with his portrayal of the brutally mutilated Earl of Gloucester.
This may be the best King Lear ever staged on Canadian soil!
Review by Jonathan O’Neil