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King Lear review at Minerva Theatre Chichester

This is an unusually evocative and chamber style production of Lear in the small Minerva Theatre but it shows great power and immediacy in Steven Pimlott’s direction. The design by Alison Chitty is minimalist and is heavily reliant upon poignant lighting by Paul Pyant.

The play shows mankind at its worst – cruel, self seeking, and apparently lacking justice, with family dynamics and political authority intertwined. David Warner’s Lear is extremely human, with old age and mental infirmity showing at the same time compassion and wisdom and personal vulnerability. The voice may not be as powerful as it was but passion and insecurity are well personified and his final scene with Cordelia (Kay Curram), in his arms is extremely moving.

Stephen Noonan’s Edmund shows just how attractive a villain can be and yet how uncertain a way to personal power this is. Michael Thomas as Kent gave a fine performance and left no doubt about where his loyalties lay. Gloucester was perhaps slow to develop but his political uncertainty is overtaken by vast humanity and some personal pathos in a fine performance by Richard O’Callaghan. His legitimate son, Edgar, who has been forced to flee as a result of Edmund’s treachery, is determined yet anguished in the hands of Jo Stone-Fewings.

Last season Chichester developed a strong ensemble approach and this production would indicate that this will continue, with all members of the cast providing strong support. The direction identified the usual Lear themes but also underlined good, with an awareness raising of the truth for all the characters.

A great drama exceptionally well directed.

Production Information

Minerva Theatre, Chichester, May 7-September 10

William Shakespeare
Steven Pimlott
Chichester Festival Theatre
Cast includes
David Warner, Michael Thomas, Richard O’Callaghan, Stephen Noonan, Lou Gish
Running time
3hrs 35mins

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