This video from England says about itself:
27 October 2016
By Gillian Piggott in Britain:
Thursday 17th November 2016
Old Vic, London SE1
IN THIS King Lear, Glenda Jackson makes a storming return to the theatre after more than two decades in British politics and her monumental performance shows just how much politics’ gain has been the stage’s loss.
Lear is the perfect choice for the wiry Jackson, whose elderly body, beautiful and androgynous, fascinates. The question of a female playing a fading old man does not even arise. She completely inhabits the role.
Jackson’s greatest asset always was, and still is, her mellifluous voice and meticulous articulation. That vocal range, moving effortlessly from gentle lower register to harsh higher notes paints Lear’s journey in bright colours and affords us the chance to relish the poetry.
But while Jackson’s performance will go down as one of the great Lears, director Deborah Warner’s uneven interpretation of the play as a domestic tragedy about the indignities and injustices of old age downplays the epic dimension and political context and fails to support Jackson’s marvellous work.
Surprisingly, Warner appears not to trust the material, seeking instead to import contemporary references at every turn.
While Jackson’s androgyny reflects the current interest in gender fluidity, clunky gimmicks such as setting the play in a rehearsal room or actors simulating masturbation and copulation are distractions.
And it’s difficult to take in the wonderful “stand up for bastards” speech by Edmund (Simon Manyonda) if it is delivered while he is working out.
But no effort is made to make a case for the sisters’ cruelty and their “filial ingratitude,” lessening the dramatic texture of the characters and the play. Rhys Ifans, genuinely funny, is a fine fool.
But some of the younger cast members, far less convincing, are “severely o’erparted,” an instance being Morfydd Clark. Her excessively emotional interpretation of Cordelia renders her delivery inaudible.
Runs until December 3, box office: oldvictheatre.com.