Antony Sher climbed another theatrical mountain when he took on King Lear in Gregory Doran’s 2016 production.

King Lear sits high up on a throne in a fur coat and crown looking down at his daughters who are looking behind them
Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC Browse and license our images

FROM FOOL TO KING

"Antony Sher is unbearably moving as the volatile king, in Gregory Doran’s stellar production full of standout performances", Michael Billington, Guardian, 2 September 2016.

Following his critically acclaimed performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Antony Sher played King Lear, one of the greatest parts written by Shakespeare. In 1982 he had been a memorable red-nosed Fool to Michael Gambon's Lear in Adrian Noble's production.

PAGAN WORLD

Sher's Lear made a spectacular entrance carried on a transparent litter to the sound of ritual chanting. On his throne, he presented an impressive but isolated figure, seated in front of a gleaming copper disc, which resembled the sun. Niki Turner's set and costume designs emphasised the pagan setting of the production.

LOCAL KNIGHTS

When the show opened in Stratford-upon-Avon, 24 local Midlands men were cast in the non-speaking roles of Lear's followers.

Directed by Artistic Director Gregory Doran, the production played at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Barbican in London in 2016, as well as being broadcast to cinemas worldwide.

You can buy the King Lear DVD of this production from our shop.

DESIGNING THE PRODUCTION

Niki Turner's previous work with the company included designs for Oroonoko (1999), As You Like It (2000), Cardenio (2011), The Orphan of Zhao (2012) and The Witch of Edmonton (2014).

Her set for the 2016 production of King Lear was dominated by a large solar disc. This motif was echoed in the costumes for the opening scene, including the golden medallions on Lear's fur coat, the decoration on Regan's bodice and the courtiers' regalia.

GLASS BOXES

Niki Turner's striking set designs made great use of transparent boxes, firstly when King Lear made his grand first entrance, and then later when the Earl of Gloucester was blinded. The bound Gloucester (David Troughton) was encased in an illuminated box on stage as his eyes were gouged, blood splattering the glass surface.

GOING DOWN A STORM

Turner was equally imaginative and economical in her design for the storm scene, as a tarpaulin was hoisted up to provide precarious shelter for Lear and the Fool. The design was complimented by Tim Mitchell's evocative lighting.

Cast List

COMPANY 2016

Romayne Andrews – Soldier

Antony Byrne – Kent

Eke Chukwu – Soldier

James Andrews – Cornwall

James Cooney – Soldier

Bethan Cullinane – Lady

Marième Diouf – Lady

Paapa Essiedu – Edmund

Jenny Fennessy – Lady

Kevin N Golding – Curan

Marcus Griffiths – France

Nia Gwynne - Goneril

Oliver Johnstone – Edgar

Byron Mondahl – Oswald

Theo Ogundipe – Burgundy

Antony Sher – King Lear

Natalie Simpson – Cordelia

Clarence Smith – Albany

David Troughton – Gloucester

Graham Turner – Fool

Ewart James Walters – Old Man

Kelly Williams – Regan

 

CREATIVES

 

Director – Gregory Doran

Designer – Niki Turner

Lighting – Tim Mitchell

Sound – Jonathan Ruddick

Composer – Ilona Sekacz

Movement – Michael Ashcroft

Fights – Bret Yount

 

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