Human frailties – mostly suppressed in contemporary everyday life – were portrayed in all their gruesome colour in the National Theatre’s live screening of King Lear at South Holland Centre in Spalding last Thursday.
It made for a gripping, if very long at three-and-a-half hours, production directed by Sam Mendes.
At first, we had King Lear the bully and dictator prepared to split his kingdom between his daughters based on how well they flattered him.
We saw the insincerity and greed of two of the daughters – one even flirting with her elderly father – while the third and youngest, Cordelia, refused to play the game.
We then watch as an ageing Lear descends into madness, a dramatic storm scene serving as the catalyst that tips him over the edge. There was crashing thunder and storm clouds and we watched as Lear and his Fool appeared to huddle on a precipice without any protection from the storm.
The king’s descent into madness was portrayed so well by Simon Russell Beale, who took to wandering around in enormously baggy underpants.
Adrian Scarborough gave a great performance as the Fool and the grasping ‘wicked sisters’ perfectly portrayed selfishness in the face of their father’s vulnerability.