Theatre in Wales

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At Theatr Clwyd

Clwyd Theatre Cymru- King Lear , New Theatre, cardiff , February 1, 2001
If only for its disgust, the moment Cornwall pushes out Gloucester's eyes is bound never to fail in any production of the play. Here too was the first moment this production really took over the audience. Passion and a very strong engagement with the audience occurs immediately at the opening of the second act as actor Richard Moore as Gloucester comes on to the stage with blood soaked eyes and clothing. The succeeding scene between him and is unseen son Edgar is extremely moving and a credit to the sensitive playing of the two actors. Edgar is very movingly played by Steffan Rhodri.

Nicol Williamson's powerful Lear also finds his greatest degree of sensitive playing in the second part of the play. His forgiveness and reconciliation with Cordelia and his tenderness over her dying body demonstrate Williamson's great ability to engage with the audience. The earlier scene on the 'blasted heath' was a little less compelling mainly due to the detractions of the technical presentation of the storm.

The content of the opening scene is a very cold and bleak one but three was also coldness amongst the acting as we got to know who was who and what they were all up to. It seemed to be a very much more than competent but cold heated production that took a long time to draw the audience in. Each scene progressed quickly and elegantly yet the story was not always clearly put over. There was a great deal of clarity and good speaking of the verse but there was some ranting and inaudibility, albeit this is a big auditorium to fill with a lyric drama. The actresses playing Goneril and Regan looked very much alike that it was difficult to tell which was which but was probable a fault in me. Cordelia played by Siwan Morris had an extremely delicate beauty about her and the love she had for her father, which she could not express to him she most certainly communicated to the audience.

At its best the production showed the firm hand of director Terry Hands and his great understanding of Shakespeare. It was just a little sad that this didn't quite permeate every moment of the evening.

We don't see very much 'Grown Up' Theatre in Cardiff with not having a producing theatre of our own but this season at the New we are being given an excellent run of lyric drama. Roy Marsden's production of "The Hobbit" finished its run on March 10th. Lear is followed by Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" directed by Peter Hall, then Susannah York in "Amy's View" by David Hare, The Royal National Theatre's musical "HONK" and in May we can look forward to a fine performance from Peter Bowles in "Beau Brummell" by Ron Hutchinson. All this, plus The Welsh National Opera and The Northern Royal Ballet. - New Theatre please keep this up.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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