It’s impossible to describe Ian McKellen’s performance in the National Theatre’s production of King Lear without using an exhaustive list of superlatives. Given his status as an actor, you’d expect him to be amazing but he’s beyond that.
This movie is a live production that was filmed especially, and so it allows close ups, varied perspectives and sound quality that only enhances what would have been an incredible theatre experience.
Director, Jonathan Danby has updated the setting to a a 21st century parliamentary/military aesthetic. Sometimes modernising Shakespeare doesn’t work but in this case it works very well.
While the set is minimal there are some extraordinary effects including an actual shower of water during the tempest scenes. Nor is there any restraint when it comes to bloodier aspects of the play – they’re very effective but shouldn’t scare off the queasy.
Every actor in this show is utterly captivating, with Kirsty Bushell being so deliciously wicked as Regan, you almost wish she had her own spin-off.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich