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King Lear at the Old Vic

First Published 5 November 2016, Last Updated 30 May 2018

After a quarter century away, King Lear at The Old Vic marks Glenda Jackson’s electrifying return to the London stage. Deborah Warner, the world-renowned theatremaker and two-time Olivier Award winner, has reinvigorated one of Shakespeare’s most famous and oft-performed works with a peerless cast and ambitious staging.

King Lear tells of the story of an ageing monarch and their descent into madness. Riddle with deceit and corruption, the play explores the fatal consequences of a very foolish decision.

Glenda Jackson heads up one of the year’s most impressive casts. Playing the titular King Lear, it’s a towering performance. From the sneering, frenzied figure at the start of the play to a King driven mad and inspiring pity – Glenda holds the audience throughout, constantly shifting from emotion to emotion. Her performance is piercing and explodes around the cavernous and stark Old Vic stage. The world seems to stops when she speaks. 

The production also stars Morfydd Clark, William Chubb, Jane Horrocks, Celia Imrie, Rhys Ifans, Simon Manyonda and Harry Melling. Each cast member renders these characters completely believable, the tragic outcome a result of their human failings.

This is a superlative production, a King Lear for the ages. 2016 has seen some of the most innovative and challenging staging of Shakespeare’s work to date. Here are just a few of the highlights.

The Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar Warehouse

The Tempest, Henry IV and Julius Caesar will play a 13-week repertory season, from 23 September – 17 December 2016 at the Donmar Warehouse temporary space in King’s Cross. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring the incomparable Harriet Walter (Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival), the trilogy is a stunning reclamation of Shakespeare’s work.

To book tickets visit the show’s website.

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Henry V, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

This summer Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre revived Henry V with Olivier Award winner Michelle Terry playing King Henry. Michelle brought gravitas and poise to Shakespeare’s famous monarch who we saw grow on stage from gentle and nervous to a roaring leader. Michelle neither made Henry a woman, nor attempted to exaggerate the traditional masculine tropes. She simply played a character; a soldier, a patriot and an immensely talented politician.

Read our full review here.

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Imogen, Shakespeare’s Globe

Imogen was a radical reworking of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Set in contemporary London, the play was thrilling, a Shakespearian production the likes of which had never been seen before at the Globe. Bold and bursting with a youthful energy, the play centred on Imogen who was captivatingly played by Maddy Hill. The play’s theme reverberated around the historic theatre, a potent and compelling tale for our times.

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