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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review: Globe on tour, King Lear

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King among men: Joseph Marcell in the title role of The Globe theatre’s touring production

The Globe's welcome return to Cumbria was another chance to enjoy Shakespeare in the raw, a stripped-down version delivered in the style of an acting troupe rolling into town to deliver a tale from the Bard.

A basic wooden stage had been erected at Brougham Hall and the six actors not only had to be singers, musicians and stagehands, but had to take on two or more roles each. They strolled around and chatted to the audience and then before proceedings were fully underway gave us a song and boasted that their tour would take them to St Lucia.

Wherever they go it could hardly getting any hotter the sun that shone down on this year's Globe treat, King Lear.

I had wondered if the baking weather would suit this dark and tempestuous tragedy (the drenching we had for last year’s Hamlet would have suited), but reckoned without some really clever staging that used curtains and metal thunder sheets to create a memorable storm scene.

The doubling-up of actors gave the performance some added energy, particularly when Edmund (Oliver Boot) dashed around changing hats to appear simultaneously as two characters. But perhaps it also prevented us delving a little deeper into some of the characters.
Matthew Romaine certainly rose to the challenge, excelling in three roles – Edgar, Cornwall and Burgundy to which you could add Poor Tom, Edgar’s mad alter ego which saw him swinging monkey-like on the stage roof.

Joseph Marcell was an excellent Lear who brought real emotion and sense of loss into the play’s bloody conclusion as the death toll surpassed that of a Midsomer Murders box set. If I was being picky though I would ask for more rage in this Lear.

Before the show one of my brood had asked me about the play. I told her it was about a man like me, being driven mad by his three daughters. This comparison was politely ignored, but we all agreed that we would have liked more gore and horror in the blinding of Gloucester, although an eye being thrown into the audience was a nice touch.

 

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