Review: 'King Lear'
By: Sophie Hill
Adapting a famous play such as King Lear is a bold choice, and one I was fascinated to see play out on the 601 Stage. I had done very little research into what the show was going to look and feel like aesthetically, but I was met with a contemporary masterpiece. The beginning of the play, which started with edgy and unexpected R&B music, was followed by a choreographically interesting dance battle scene. I appreciated how this immediately surprised the audience and prepared us for the theatrical juxtaposition we were about to witness.
As the drama continued, a few key performances stood out amongst the multifaceted and talented female cast. The performance by Annabel Steele, who played Lear, was incredibly impressive for its power and raw honesty. The balance of her character weaved itself throughout the whole play, even when family tensions began to tear her apart. A performance I was terrified by (but in a good way!) was Helena Jacques-Morton’s Goneril. You could practically feel the venom spitting from her words! Her manipulative workings with Eleanor Burke’s Edmund had me at the edge of my seat, as we watched these characters hatch twisted plans and become romantically intertwined. Personally, their relationship was my favourite to watch develop on stage, though the tragic ending was a bitter pill to swallow.
If I had to give one criticism, I would say that the first act was slightly confusing in terms of communicating the plot. A clearer opening act would have given the audience a better understanding of the relationships between the characters. But, overall, the play recovered from this minor setback in the second act by delivering incredible consistency and a monstrously impressive ending. Perhaps what I loved most about this version of King Lear was the way all of these amazing actresses worked together to play badasses. This is the type of theatre that I believe can really inspire people to be stronger than what they think they are capable of. When we see examples of women conquering and succeeding, we can become women who conquer and succeed. This performance was definitely one not to have missed, and I feel honoured to have attended.