King Lear (2014): National Theatre, Olivier Theatre

PrKing Lear (

Location: Olivier Theatre
Live Performance

PRINCIPAL CAST: Stephen Boxer (Gloucester); Tom Brooke (Edgar); Kate Fleetwood (Goneril); Anna Maxwell Martin (Regan); Simon Russell Beale (King Lear); Adrian Scarborough (Fool); Stanley Townsend (Kent); Sam Troughton (Edmund); Olivia Vinall (Cordelia).

This production ran from 14 January - 28 May 2014.

Simon Manyonda understudied Tom Brooke as Edgar and Paapa Essiedu understudied Sam Troughton's Edgar. Paapa Essiedu made headlines with his understudy performance when Sam Troughton lost his voice in the middle of a performance during previews.

"A croaky start to the new King Lear at the National. At the interval of its preview performance last night, director Sam Mendes came on stage to apologise. He announced that Sam Troughton - the actor playing Edmund the villain - had lost his voice and would have to stand down. His understudy, Paapa Essiedu, rose to the challenge to replace him but could not mask his strikingly dissimilar appearance. The pre-interval Edmund was white, the post-interval Edmund black. 'O, the difference of man and man!' cried Edmund's lover Goneril of her new Edmund, to peals of mirth from cast and audience alike."  ~ "Double take at King Lear", Evening Standard, 22 January 2014

"Mendes has set the piece in a present day totalitarian state. Russell Beale's Lear is an old Stalinesque despot, surrounded by a huge armed guard, and hte love-test of his daughters is a chilling public ceremony, with microphones, designed to prop up his ego before he delegates power."  ~ Paul Taylor, Independent, 24 January 2014, in Theatre Record 2014, Issue 1-2

"You carry away some great details: the giant statue of Lear that says so much about what kind of ruler he was; Gloucester getting blinded with a corkscrew in a wine cellar - it's even grislier than it sounds - Lear grooving to Edgar's singing on the heath; Sam Troughton's all-black outfit as a lip-smackingly evil Edmund; the enveloping sound of overhead aircraft as civil war rages."  ~ Dominic Maxwell, The Times, 24 January 2014, in Theatre Record 2014, Issue 1-2

"The production's epic scale emphasises that this is a drama about politics as well as a portrait of a disintegrating family. Yet the political slant doesn't stop the collapsing relationships and morbid psychology being realised with piercing authenticity. The quality of the support is superb."  ~ Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard, 24 January 2014, in Theatre Record 2014, Issue 1-2

"There is plenty to admire: Stan[ley] Townsend's kindly Duke of Kent, understudy Paapa Essiedu stepping in as the opportunistic Edmund and Tom Brooke's Edgar."  ~ Quentin Letts, Daily Mail, 24 January 2014, in Theatre Record 2014, Issue 1-2

"Played on Anthony Ward's design of unyielding granite, beneath dark rolling clouds and forked lightning, it's often difficult to endure."  ~ Sam Marlowe, Metro (London), 24 January 2014, in Theatre Record 2014, Issue 1-2

Pe People involved in this production