THEATRE REVIEW: King Lear starring Glenda Jackson

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE: Old Vic

WHEN: 28/10, runs to 3/12

How long is too long in the theatre? It’s a question which crosses our mind during this three-hour-and-45-minute production with one 15-minute interval.

  • Read on for reasons including 80-year-old Glenda Jackson’s gender-blind casting triumph

Deborah Warner’s King Lear is in modern-day dress and light on scenery with the chairs occasionally onstage in a semi circle sometimes giving it the feel of a read-through before the real thing.

Glenda Jackson’s descent into madness is vividly portrayed and she makes a convincing Lear bequeathing her kingdom between daughters including Celia Imrie’s Goneril and Jane Horrocks’ deliciously conniving  Regan.

Elsewhere the casting is as showy with Rhys Ifans as Fool complete with comedy Superman outfit and Harry Melling’s tortured Edgar even going full-frontal at one point.

An interesting take on a classic then with a starry cast and a central performance that fully justifies the decision to go gender-blind even if from row two it was a little difficult to hear Jackson during the storm scene.

Looking at the Old Vic’s website, this production is yet to be a sell-out and then 20 per cent off given to customers at the venue’s aftershow bar Penny indicates the Old Vic is keen to give guests as much value for money as possible.

It’s also where we saw actor Stephen Rea (who must have been in the audience) and cast members including Rhys Ifans and Jane Horrocks relaxing after the show.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Old Vic. Tickets
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4 comments

  1. Tony · November 1

    “An interesting take on a classic then with a starry cast and a central performance that fully justifies the decision to go gender-blind even if from row two it was a little difficult to hear Jackson during the storm scene.”

    So you’re saying women can’t project their voices like men. Not so gender blind then is it?

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  2. Jennifer Holman · November 4

    They can if they’re still young enough, but at 80 after being off stage for 25 years she has no chance. Totally idiotic casting. All looks horrendous. I wouldn’t accept free tickets let alone pay an enormous amount of money just to satisfy the latest PC gender blind casting. At her age she’ll be lucky to survive many such long performances!

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  3. mrmonstagigz · November 4

    Glenda looking in fine fettle. The comment about not being able to hear her during the storm scene was more a reflection on the sound of the storm (too loud!) rather than Glenda’s performance.

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