Skip to main content

King Lear


Citizens Theatre
4 stars
There’s a glorious circularity to David Hayman’s return to the Citz 
after a twenty year absence in Dominic Hill’s mighty production of 
Lear. Where Hayman began his career on the same stage four decades ago 
with a unique take on Shakespeare’s mad Danish prince, here he appears 
equally unhinged as the elder statesman whose estrangement from his 
favourite daughter lurches him into a mid-life crisis that leaves him 
with nothing.

It begins with a Hogarthian chorus resembling Occupy protesters 
breaking into the palace where the party is in full decadent swing. In 
this sense, the economic and class divide of the story is laid-out from 
the start, with the chorus punctuating every psychological body-blow 
with Paddy Cunneen’s live score played on splintered piano strings and 
other bomb-site detritus. Edmund is a initially a hoodied-up student in 
search of a cause to legitimise him while his swotty brother Edgar 
sprawls himself across the sofa.

If that is a family feud waiting to happen, once Lear’s beloved 
Cordelia breaks ties, Lear surrounds himself with parasitic party 
people, indulging his wild years with excess before ending up on the 
scrap-heap. The image at the end of the first half of him ripping to 
shreds bin-bag effigies of his daughters is spine-chilling.

While Lynn Kennedy’s Cordelia becomes penniless and pregnant, Kathryn 
Howden’s Goneril and Shauna Macdonald’s Regan are vicious, fur-clad 
vultures, with Regan’s sexed-up greed even causing her to stab 
Gloucester’s eye out with the heel of her stiletto. If watching Hayman 
in tatty long-johns go demented before a crowd of white-coated doctors 
is like gazing on the ghost of Citizens past, the final display of 
people power looks bravely towards the future.

The Herald, April 26th 2012

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …