King Lear (London) OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • METRO UK

  • EVENING STANDARD

  • TELEGRAPH

  • TIME OUT UK

Opening Night:
January 14, 2014
Closing:
May 28, 2014

Theater: National Theatre / Upper Ground, South Bank, London, UK, SE1 9PX

Synopsis: 

An aged king decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, according to which of them is most eloquent in praising him. His favourite, Cordelia, says nothing.

Simon Russell Beale, whose recent appearances at the National include Timon of Athens and Collaborators, takes the title role in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

"When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools."

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF King Lear (London)

    Shakespeare’s Raging Monarch as a Modern-Day Dictator

    Ben Brantley

    January 26, 2014: Could you ever find it in your heart to pity a mass-murdering dictator? What if you suddenly came upon Stalin, say, or Ceausescu in a storm-swept wilderness, and he had been stripped of his power, his sanity and most of his clothes? Might you muster a tiny tear of compassion, even knowing all you know about him? That’s the question posed by Sam Mendes’s sweeping and suffocating production of King Lear which opened at the National Theater here last week, with the great Simon Russell Beale in the title role. Think of it as “The Butcher in Winter,” and know that Shakespeare’s blasted heath has never been colder.

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  • METRO UK REVIEW OF King Lear (London)

    <i>King Lear</i>, National Theatre: Sam Mendes and Simon Russell Beale deliver a brutal, unforgettable collaboration

    January 24, 2014: Played on Anthony Ward’s design of unyielding granite, beneath dark rolling clouds and forked lightning, it’s often difficult to endure. But Russell Beale’s Lear, reeling with horrible rapidity into dementia, is a gripping blend of tyrannous egotism and desperately flawed humanity. And Mendes flings him, helpless as the baby he half is, out into a world that is appallingly hard and cold.

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  • LONDON EVENING STANDARD REVIEW OF King Lear (London)

    King Lear, National Theatre: Simon Russell Beale is at his best in Sam Mendes's production

    Henry Hitchings

    January 24, 2014: Simon Russell Beale is one of our greatest actors. And here as Shakespeare's frail and angry monarch, broken by his own capricious nature, he is the best I have ever seen him. Hunched and awkward, Russell Beale’s Lear resembles that other squirming tyrant Richard III. At first he’s thuggish and dictatorial, surrounded by soldiers clad in sinister black. As his power slips, his impatience grows increasingly frantic. But it is when he descends deep into the abyss of madness that Russell Beale’s performance becomes fascinating in its aching soulfulness. There is perhaps no actor better at conveying the shapes and sounds of grief.

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  • TELEGRAPH REVIEW OF King Lear (London)

    Charles Spencer reviews Sam Mendes' National Theatre production of King Lear, starring Simon Russell Beale

    Charles Spencer

    January 23, 2014: The old firm of Mendes and Russell Beale has been in business for almost 25 years now and their work together in Shakespeare has been one of the great highlights of my theatre-going life. The partnership began in 1990 with Simon Russell Beale giving an unforgettable performance as the vile and cynical Thersites in Troilus and Cressida, and since then actor has played Richard III, Ariel, Iago, Malvolio and Leontes in The Winter’s Tale in Sam Mendes productions. There wasn’t a dud among them.

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  • TIME OUT UK REVIEW OF King Lear (London)

    Andrzej Lukowski

    January 24, 2014: Once upon a time, Sam Mendes did small: he made his name in theatre as the boss of the bijou Donmar Warehouse, then broke into Hollywood with provocative indie flick ‘American Beauty’. These days Sam Mendes does MASSIVE: the last theatre show he directed was the West End’s gargantuan Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the last film he helmed was the billion dollar-grossing ‘Skyfall’.

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