Photos Reviews

King Lear

November 2014

Over 400 years old but still relevant to the world as it is, King Lear is not difficult to follow, although its characters, like real people, can be difficult to comprehend in their utter foolishness, greed and egotism. Estuary's latest venture into Shakespeare is the most ambitious yet, but will aim to provide theatre of the highest quality.

The theme of King Lear is the decay and fall of the world. The play opens like the Histories, with the division of the realm and the King's abdication. It also ends like the Histories, with the proclamation of a new king. Between the prologue and the epilogue there is a civil war. But unlike in the Histories and Tragedies, the world is not healed again. In King Lear there is no young and resolute Fortinbras to ascend the throne of Denmark; no cool-headed Octavius to become Augustus Caesar; no noble Malcolm to 'give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights'. In the epilogues to the Histories and Tragedies the new monarch invites those present to his coronation. In King Lear there will be no coronation. There is no one whom Edgar can invite to it. Everybody has died or been murdered. Gloster was right when he said: 'This great world shall so wear out to nought.' Those who have survived - Edgar, Albany and Kent - are, as Lear has been, just 'ruin'd pieces of nature'.

Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary


Lear, King of Britain - Alan Caig

Goneril, daughter to Lear - Chris Eilbeck

Regan, daughter to Lear - Clare Philbrock

Cordelia, daughter to Lear - Joana Crisostomo

Duke of Cornwall, Regan's husband - Dave Hill

Duke of Albany, Goneril's husband - Bill Pattinson

Lear's Fool - Keith Palmer

Oswald, steward to Goneril - Howard Eilbeck

King of France - Bob Drury

Duke of Burgundy - Sam Dowell

Earl of Kent - Rob Hole

Earl of Gloucester - David Batty

Edgar, son of Gloucester - Rachel Feeny-Williams

Edmund, bastard son of Gloucester - Ben Beeson

Curan, a courtier - Rose Gander

Old Man, tenant to Gloucester - Jacquie Howartson

Lear's Knight - Tom Epton

Messenger - Avril Pattinson

Gentlemen - Rosemary Whitehurst, Lynn Trout

Captain - Tom Epton

Masked figures - Joana Crisostomo, Rose Gander, Sam Dowell, Lynn Trout

Servants and Soldiers - Simon Metters, Cass Thorne, Tom Epton, Jacquie Howartson, Bob Drury, Keith Palmer, Dave Hill, Rose Gander

Production Team:

Director - Ian Potts

Assistant Director - Bill Pattinson

Production Manager - Maggie Butt

Design Co-ordinators - Janine Warre, Ben Beeson

Costume - Janine Warre, Isla Morgan, Clare Philbrock

Props - Janine Warre

Lear's Chair - Ben Beeson, Tereza Buchlova

Masks - Angela Wallwork, Luke Wallwork

Masked figures choreography - Avril Pattinson

Prompt - Janine Warre

Projection Design - Rhod Cooper, Tereza Buchlova

Projection - Rhod Cooper

Lighting - Peter Tapp

Sound - John Bradley

Original Music - Ben Beeson

Publicity Design - Phil Keen, Luke Wallwork

Stage Construction - Eliot Wright, Ben Beeson, Janine Warre

Front of House - Marie Watsham and team


From Leon Winston watched the Estuary production of King Lear:

to offer this majestic Shakespeare production in a local community setting, with a large team directed by Ian Potts, and to engage and hold the attention of an audience with sound story telling is a considerable achievement. A marathon was accomplished

King Lear is widely regarded as the most intensely serious and profoundly moving of all Shakespeare's plays. The one which is deeply concerned with matters that get to the very core of what it is to be human.

So to stage a performance is the equivalent of running a marathon. You need to prepare with a period of intensive training, be totally focussed, and that applies to all members of the production, on stage and back stage, and then give it your all on performance nights. No half measures!

The opening scene, with the ceremony of Lear dividing up his kingdom between his three daughters is key, and drives the rest of the play. Does everyone at court know in advance? What might his motives be? What will be the consequences? How surprised are his daughters and their followers? Politics and machinations loom large. The surface covers enervated and shifty moral standards. Soon all hell will break loose.

For me the opening lacked the under surface warnings. It was difficult to catch an indication, a suggestion, of why this energetic, very confident and able Lear would want to down size. What I didn't have any doubt about was that Alan Caig, as King Lear, could clearly give voice to the lyrical words and rich imagery of the text. The delivery of the language and the clarity of meaning, which is a huge responsibility, and no mean feat, were extremely well done. We were engaged from his entrance and were prepared to join him on his physical and emotional journey. The physical was well caught, but the emotional descent in to despair and madness was somewhat less convincing.

Goneril ( Chris Eilbeck) and Regan ( Clare Philbrock) from the very beginning set out their stall. Used to getting their own way, with the extra land and power there would now be no holding them. Their stance and expression became more pronounced as they both became released in to a fatal, self- centred destructive spiral. Regan's depth of sadistic bullying in the blinding of Gloucester was a very convincing, look away, moment. Both husbands ( Dave Hill and Bill Pattinson) provided strong, contrasting, but well defined support

Thoughtful, amenable Kent ( Rob Hole) and slightly craggy Gloucester ( David Batty) in many ways help hold the play together. They are part of the glue of sense and goodness. Both actors grew in to their parts and gained greater conviction as they got caught up in the violent and turbulent happenings. They were a pleasure to watch.

The Fool (Keith Palmer) was all you could expect him to be. He provided a touching, but unsentimental performance as Lear's conscience. A tense, wary individual, but wise to what is happening, who understands all. Lear's needs and errors are shown in his face. His expression carried the burden of pain that echoed through his zany musings. The energy and concentration of this actor was an example for others to follow.

In a non-scenery production it is important that all entrances give a sense of place and time. Where are the characters coming from? Why are they there? On occasions this was not always made very clear. In my view it would have helped with more atmospheric lighting, a cover for the badminton court floor and with costumes, especially Lear's, that belonged to the character rather than to the actor.

However, to offer this majestic Shakespeare production in a local community setting, with a large team directed by Ian Potts, and to engage and hold the attention of an audience with sound story telling is a considerable achievement. A marathon was accomplished.

- Reviewed by: Leon Winston


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