Sir Ian has suggested, as he is approaching 80 and the same age as Lear, that this will be his final Shakespearean role: an old man perfectly acting an old man, which makes his strength in the final scene so startling and poignant. The range of spirit he gives his performance throughout, and particularly during his last moments, is incomparable. This is theatre at its finest. It is a long work but McKellen recites the text as if it is embedded in him, as he has played the role numerous times in his career.
Ian McKellen reigns supreme in this triumphant production.
Ian McKellen’s detailed, intelligent performance is a triumph.
Considered by many to be the greatest tragedy ever written, King Lear sees two ageing fathers – one a King, one his courtier – reject the children who truly love them. Their blindness unleashes a tornado of pitiless ambition and treachery, as family and state are plunged into a violent power struggle with bitter ends.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s production received five-star reviews for its sell-out run, and transferred to the West End (where this was filmed) for a limited season. Jonathan Munby directs this contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s tender, violent, moving and shocking play. In the acconpanying interview at the beginning, McKellan talks about infusing this final Lear of his with a sense of intimacy, about wanting the audience feeling like they’re being spoken to directly by the king. Director Jonathan Danby has emphasised the personalities and individual struggles of the characters without losing any of the dramatic scope of one of Shakespeare’s hugest plays. King Lear is ever relevant to politics of the present day and contemporary power shifts, chillingly so right now, but Danby’s production gives weight to the human stories.
UK 2018, 207 min, rated M (offensive language & violence)
Includes a 20 min intermission
Live performance stage drama
Directed by Jonathan Munby
Starring Ian McKellen, Claire Price, James Corrigan, Kirsty Bushell, Luke Thompson, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Daniel Rabin & Anthony Howell
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