Investigate this Relationship
How have The Fool and King Lear been represented and staged?
The Fool does not particularly affect the plot of King Lear, but does affect how Lear sees himself and those around him. Fools were court jesters, who had skills in music and entertainment, who also often said funny or thought provoking things. The Fool calls out King Lear on his mistakes.
Take a look at the Things to Consider and investigate the different ways we’ve staged King Lear and the Fool’s relationship in past productions in this picture gallery.
As you look through the images and photographs from past productions of King Lear, think about:
- What choices the designer has made for both characters and what that suggests about them. There are references in the play to the traditional ‘motley’ costume of a court jester in Shakespeare's time, including his hat or ‘coxcomb’. How has the designer interpreted this and what effect does the costume have in suggesting the relationship between Lear and the Fool?
- How the relationship between these two people of very different status comes across in each production. Are there moments that show an understanding and intimacy between them, or moments that show more distance?
- The Fool is the only one of Lear’s followers who is with him at the start of the storm scene. How is the moment of King Lear and the Fool in the storm shown in each production?
How would you stage this relationship and present these characters in order to show the dynamic between them?