WHAT’S the one play that screams “Christmas” to me? Shakespeare’s King Lear, obviously.
Despite having meticulously analysed it to death back in my A Level days, there was still much joy to be found in watching King’s Shakespeare Company’s King Lear at the Greenwood Theatre.
Rather than sticking to performing a traditional version in the setting of a royal court, director Freddie Fullerton chose to stage the classic play in the cutthroat world of corporate corruption with deadly ambition at its centre.
At first, his concept worked brilliantly. The ensemble created an immediate sense of urgency with screaming, frantic movement and exaggerated facial expressions. Already in the first couple of minutes, as an audience member, you felt very on edge.
But as the play progressed the dialogue raised up cliffs, storms and settings, we lost a sense of corporate chaos and were presented with a more traditional version of King Lear.
Matthew Aldridge was compelling to watch in his descent towards madness as Gloucester. He captured anger and vulnerability extremely well, both vocally and physically, and we saw a real contrast in his vocal projection and weakness of movement throughout the play.
Rupert Sadler offered an engaging performance of Edgar’s fight against his brother and nemesis Edmund, performed brilliantly by Magnus Gordon.
One particular performance that ought to be mentioned was Steffan Rizzi as the title character. From the first second, he attacked the role with sheer grit and ferocity, leading his company and ensemble successfully.
How he managed to consistently scream for three hours without any harm is bewildering. Yet Rizzi still had the maturity and experience to play the role with such intensity and passion, it really was astounding to watch at moments.
Every time he entered the stage, his presence made him the only actor that you would want to watch.
This dark and brooding production was in the cusp of brilliance in the performances from both the leads and the ensemble.