Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides
— Cordelia, Act I Sc 1
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man, As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
— Lear, Act II Sc 4
King Lear is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. In a fit of rage and vanity, Lear banishes his youngest daughter Cordelia and divides his kingdom between her sisters, Gonerill and Regan.
Cast out by them into a storm that echoes the turmoil in his mind, he slowly learns that power and pomp are an illusion.
In this production, set in the ancient Celtic past, the Abbey Shakespeare Players under director Henry Ward bring out the essential humanity in Shakespeare's retelling of this ancient tale.
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
— Lear, Act III Sc 2
Lear is neither conventional nor well-mannered. It takes place in a dangerous pagan world. There is an archetypal resonance to this story that it shares with some of the powerful underlying themes of Greek tragedy. Even though Lear is often bleak, there are moments of transcendent beauty.
|Lear, King of Britain||Richard Carwardine|
|Gonerill, his eldest daughter||Heledd Hart|
|Regan, his second daughter||Georgina Ferry|
|Cordelia, his youngest daughter||Mary Glynn|
|Duke of Albany, husband of Gonerill||Andrew Frank|
|Duke of Cornwall, husband of Regan||Joe Kao|
|King of France||Will Long|
|Duke of Burgundy||Richard Makin|
|Earl of Gloucester||Ian Wood|
|Edgar, his eldest son||Ed Long|
|Edmund, his younger, illegitimate son||Andrew Cleaver|
|Earl of Kent||Geoffrey Summers|
|Fool, attendant on Lear||Richard Mitchley|
|Oswald, Gonerill's steward||Henry Morris|
|Old man||Mike Hall|
|Doctor, attendant on Cordelia||Linda Kirk|
|Servants, crowd etc.||Angharad Evans, Hermione Miltiadou, Harry Booth & members of the company|
|Assistant director||Georgina Ferry|
|Soundscape||Richard Morris, Henry Ward|
|Costume designer||Stephanie Ross|
|Lighting designer & Technical director||David Long|
|Technical assistant||Andy Reader|
|Wardrobe assistant||Jane Kipling|
|Props||Penny Miltiadou, Kate Standen|
|Textual advisers||Richard Carwardine & Linda Kirk|
|Poster & Website design||Ed Long|
|Set||Robert Fitzmartin & Henry VIII|
Sound and music
|Musicians||Bob Dent, Dan Webster, Simon Denison|