Saturday, 18 February 2012

King Lear at the Tobacco Factory

One of the first signs of spring in these parts is the return of Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, doing (in this first production at least) what it says on the tin.  This year they are kicking off with King Lear, with John Shrapnel in the role of the ageing king whose narcissistic folly unleashes a tragedy of savage proportions.


It's had mixed reviews, the main criticism being Andrew Hilton's direction, but I found it mesmerising, owing in no small part to its intimate setting which serves to bring the audience right into the action.  There were stellar performances from SATTF regulars and some new faces, though I would single out Trevor Cooper's moving portrayal of the blinded Gloucester for special mention.  My 
only quibble was the change in style of costume in Act IV, from traditional Jacobean to World War I type uniforms, which didn't seem to add anything to the production and which I found distracting.

Having seen SATTF's interpretation of 'Uncle Vanya' (confusingly by Chekhov and at the Bristol Old Vic!) a couple of years ago, I'm really looking forward to their production of 'The Cherry Orchard' (one of my set texts at university) in April, as well as the new leaves and blackthorn blossom and daffodils which are surely about to burgeon now Hilton and his team are back. 



'Th' hast spoken right, 'tis true.
The wheel is come full circle'  





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