Creative Critical Response King Lear- 2011 Production- Lyceum Theatre As the lights of the theatre dimmed and the stage was lit up, a roar of applause broke out over the audience. The stage production of Shakespeare’s King Lear has been long awaited by many critics and Ian McKellan’s performance does not disappoint. The opening scenes reflect the opposite of what was due to come further in the play, coming from warm, homely and loving acting on stage to pure cruelty and terror.
When Lear viciously banishes his loyalties, such a stir is caused by all actors on stage, that even the 21st century audience are shocked, despite it probably being a lot more shocking in 19th Century. Ian McKellan and his “tigers for daughters” make this play come alive. The audience focused only on them, feeling like being in another world. The vivid scenes of the play, such as the blinding of Gloucester, brought terror to the faces of the audience.
The screams of Gloucester rebounded off the walls of the theatre, even hours after the end of the play. Without the incredible acting from these characters, the audience would not have had the same experience of the theatre. Ian McKellan gives the performance of his life, showing the downfall of King Lear convincingly and powerfully, despite his usual acting being for the camera rather than a live audience. McKellan is successful in the main aim of most stage actors; leaving the audience thinking and talking about it even after the end.
He is not only successful in convincing the audience of pure dementia but also managing to do it without causing himself dementia. During the three hour long play, not a single eye was taken off the stage, in case any action or even word was missed by the engrossed audience. There were many a jump from the audience however when Lear lets out an incredible scream as if the realisation of his actions have hit him, before calmly and unobtrusively repeating the words “I shall go mad”.
This point of the play marks his realisation and more importantly irreversibility of his actions. The heart-rending final scene, in which Lear brings the dead Cordelia in his arms to the audience’s view, is one of the best yet, Lear’s pure distraught over her death is shown by his piercing cries. Which not even a heart of stone could resist. Another brilliant performance was given by Jonathon Hyde, in his portrayal of Kent. The usual loyalty of Kent is shown with xtras, as Hyde goes undercover after being banished. Kent’s brilliant ideas and wittiness in this production make him one of the most entrancing actors on stage. Especially at points such as the dismissal of Oswald, Goneril’s devoted servant. Overall, this production of King Lear is highly convincing and leave the audience feeling dazed, deeply moved and oddly uplifted , which as some would describe as the feelings left after a truly horrific tragedy.