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GREAT PLAY DONE EXCEPTIONALLY WELL

Print Version

King Lear
by William Shakespeare
Director: Michael Switzer
Fullhouse Productions

at Meteor Theatre, Hamilton
From 5 Aug 2011 to 20 Aug 2011

Reviewed by Gail Pittaway, 8 Aug 2011
originally published in Waikato Times

Full House Productions deserve full houses for this gripping, fast-paced performance of one of the most complex plays Shakespeare ever wrote. Michael Switzer's direction is imaginative, yet makes clear the many factions and rival jealousies that arise when aging Lear decides to divide his kingdom between three daughters, as long as they can prove how much they love him.

There are many reasons to see this production. The casting is excellent, the costumes splendid and the stage design and properties along with the use of live drums and natural trumpets add to the sense of a feudal kingdom, with extremes of power and poverty.

Graeme Cairns gives Lear a passionate reading of this complicated character, with full range from tetchy to tragic. As his competing daughters, Sarah Nathan and Fiona Artis are compellingly treacherous.

Also outstanding, Nick Wilkinson's duplicitous Edmond matches James Cain's naïve Edgar while Alec Forbes and Mark Houlahan give strong performances as husbands of the evil sisters. Cain's Poor Tom character delivers some of Shakespeare's most poetic lines and the scenes between Tom and blinded Gloucester (David Sutlcliffe) are particularly fine.

Zoe Vaile as Cordelia, and Jenna Hutson as the Fool also shine, as does Calvin Peterson the traitor Oswald, and John Hunter as Kent.

Showcasing some of Hamilton's finest actors, the production shows us how talented our local pool truly is. It's one of the great plays done exceptionally well. See it! 

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