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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

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