Audiences at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s LIVE transmission of ‘King Lear’ at the Wellesley on Wednesday 12 October will see Anthony Sher – one of the stage’s greatest stars – in a role that has been called ‘the crowning moment of his career’. This is quite an accolade given that his ground-breaking role as Richard III in 1984 and subsequent performances as, amongst many others, Shylock, Leontes, Macbeth, Prospero and Falstaff – all for the RSC – have been universally acclaimed.
Michael Billington, theatre critic of The Guardian describes his performance as “mightily impressive – one that will rank as a crowning achievement in a major career – in a production that is bolted together with clarity, insight and a relish for the monumental. Sher makes the theatrical entrance of the century, through a vast doorway set in the centre of imposing brickwork, carried aloft inside a sort of glass cabinet still, stately, simian. He could almost be an art-work in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, except that he’s attended by bowing and scraping courtiers and much chanting. This is a palpably pagan world, in thrall to sun and moon. When roused to rise, when moved to anger, Lear acts like a conduit for the celestial: drums thunder and his upturned palm seeks to transmit the force of malignant divinity upon his ingrate daughters.”
Paapa Essiedu – the RSC’s recent Hamlet – plays the “bastard” Edmund, “sweetly sardonic and strangely likeable in his villainy”, Oliver Johnstone is his manipulated brother Edgar, brought to the state of a shivering wretch in a loincloth and David Troughton presents “a refreshingly nasty Gloucester, who gets his disproportionate come-uppance in memorably icky, blood-spattering style during the eye-gouging scene.”
The production has also taken the unusual step of recruiting 24 local extras to play Lear’s disorderly retinue who illustrate why Nia Gwynne’s Goneril and Kelly Williams’s Regan feel such indignation at their father’s house visits.
To see one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies performed live in Wellington by an actor of Sher’s stature in this outstanding production is a treat that few theatre followers should miss.
Live productions in October at The Wellesley also include the Bolshoi’s production of Shostakovich’s satirical ballet ‘The Golden Age’ set in Europe during the 1920’s with a jazzy score and music-hall style.
And a special gala performance to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the award-winning musical ‘Miss Saigon’ is transmitted direct from London’s West End with many of the original cast – including Jonathan Price and Lea Salonga.
*Wednesday 12 October at 7pm ‘King Lear’ from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford
*Sunday 16 October at 4pm ‘The Golden Age’ from the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
*Sunday 16 October at 7.15pm ‘Miss Saigon’ from London
More information about LIVE performances and booking details can be found on www.wellesleycinema.co.uk.