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King Lear
by William Shakespeare

Duke's Head Theatre


Cast list



Lear, King of England
Kenneth McClellan
Vivienne Glance
Carol Holt
Charlotte Langham
Duke of Albany
Blaise Doran
Duke of Cornwall
Duncan Bonner
King of France
Christopher Klein
Duke of Burgundy
Ian Hawkins
Earl of Gloucester
Derek Sydney
Earl of Kent
Tony Morton
Kevin Brock
Jeremy Minns
Timothy Holden
Lear's Fool
David Glennie
Ian Hawkins
Christopher Klein
Duncan Bonner
Ian Hawkins
Directed by
Dermot O'Brien
Assistant Director
Tim Shoesmith
Pip Leckenby
Lighting Designer
Phil Lea
Stage Manager
Gerard Ahearn
Notes & background material
Margaret Hotine

Many thanks for assistance with set building and costumes to: Kathy Sandys, Sarah Pilling, David Taylor and Mike Crowley


Surrey Comet

No holds were barred at the Duke's Head, Richmond this week as Sharers and Hirelings put on a challenging production of Shakespeare's King Lear.  In slightly claustrophobic conditions above the pub, the spitting sarcasm of Lear's Fool, the grotesque arrogance and innate stupidity of the ruler himself, and the pure evil of daughters Goneril and Regan, hit home hard.  Dermot O'Brien's direction allows little time for the audience to catch its breath, as scene follows scene at breakneck pace.  It is a testament to the team that so few props are needed in what is often said to be the most difficult of the Bard's works to stage.  It is an uncompromising show.  No concessions are made to modern dress, the company does not believe in it, and the play is stripped to its bare essentials to emphasise the strong character clashes.  Kenneth McClellan, in the lead role, is convincingly vague and vain at the outset, and his descent into madness and eventual enlightenment is truly tear-jerking.  Special mention must also be made of his loyal ally the Fool, David Glennie, who displays remarkable insight into the complex lines... And Tony Morton as Kent deserves recognition for a cameo role which brings John Cleese-like comedy to a role rarely given sufficient prominence.  It's a hard-hitting show which runs the gamut of emotions yet is never disjointed. 

Richmond and Twickenham Times

Referees of the Guinness Book of Records should hurry to the Duke's Head in Richmond to see the spirited 73-years-old Kenneth McClellan playing [King Lear] in a swift, seamless performance, probably the oldest to have tackled the part on an open stage.  Traditionally an old man's role, the irony is that elderly actors normally cannot manage to carry the corpse of Cordelia in the climactic death scene.  When Olivier played his television Lear at 76, Cordelia was suspended on fine wires.  But the doughty McClellan needs no such aids, and over a long, lively evening gives no impression of dreading his final ordeal.  Ideal for those studying the text, Dermot O'Brien's strong, simple production is set in a period of cross-gartered khaki socks.  There is also much to enjoy for general theatregoers including Tony Morton's scene stealing Kent, a Thatcheresque Regan and vinegary Goneril and a really scary knife fight between Edgar and his brother Edmund

City Limits

Utterly Classical... deserves a wider audience.

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