REVIEW ROUND-UP: King Lear at the Duke of York’s Theatre

In Features, London theatre, Native, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

Ian McKellen reprises his role as King Lear in the West End transfer of Jonathan Munby’s production which has arrived in London following its run in Chichester. Here’s what the critics have been making of it…

The Stage★★★ “This is a meaty, film-ready production, but the amount of stuff in it leads to some surprisingly clumsy moments, like the badly deployed blood capsules when various characters get sliced with blades, or the cast having to slop noisily around on the wet carpet after the rain.”

The Guardian: ★★★★ “Whatever its inconsistencies and imperfections, this production still dazzles, Ian McKellen shimmering brightest at its dark, tormented heart.”

Evening Standard: ★★★★ “McKellen’s work is towering, poignant and fearsome as it marks Lear’s faltering imperiousness, punctuated by sudden piercing shafts of clarity and self-awareness.”

The Arts Desk: ★★★★ “Jonathan Munby is an inspiring director, especially of Shakespeare, mining text and motivation with meticulous care.”

A Younger Theatre: “Despite being well acted, beautifully staged, and classically adapted, it’s a true slog at over three hours long.”

Culture Whisper: ★★★★ “It’s McKellen who really gets under the skin, with a towering, triumphant swansong. If you only see one Shakespeare, make it this one.”

Time Out: ★★★★ “It’s not the most incisive Lear I’ve ever seen – the thrillery stylings fall by the wayside in a less inventive second half. But there’s a terrific cast.”

London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★★ ‘If there was one reason to see this Lear, it has to be McKellen. Each line is spoken with an elderly wisdom, even in the depths of his palpable madness. It’s tormenting and triumphant.”

Broadway World: ★★★★ “McKellen is simply breathtaking as the ageing King. Cleverly drawing out the signs of dementia, his movements becoming less smooth, as though he’s not in control of his own body, and his outbursts of anger quickly give way to moments where he looks exhausted and lost.”

City Am: ★★★★★ “This is a laser-focused Lear that never lets up. Every character is distinct, every gesture considered as sharp shafts of light cut sudden paths through the gloom. This is a slick production that’s lifted by an iconic performance. By passing up a ticket, you’re passing up a chance to see a real master at work.”

British Theatre Guide: “Jonathan Munby’s transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre has much to commend it and is well worth a visit even for fans of the earlier version.”

The Upcoming: ★★★ “McKellen is the main reason people are going to see this production, and in that regard, they won’t go home disappointed. Anyone expecting something more than that, however, just might.”

Theatre Cat: “So, heroic and beautiful and serious, the terrors of the earth.”

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Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.