National Theatre Live: King Lear | 2.19.11

Charles Spencer of the Telegraph calls it “the finest and most searching Lear I have ever seen” and notes that “almost every performance seems fresh-minted and psychologically persuasive.”

 
 
Even if you lived in London you’d have a hard time getting a ticket to see the Donmar Warehouse production of King Lear starring Derek Jacobi. In fact you’d be lucky to get in to see any of their shows because this 250-seat venue is perpetually sold out. Fortunately the National Theatre Live series, which broadcasts British theatre performances to movie houses around the world, includes the Donmar production of Lear. It will be shown in the Saint Louis area on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 11:00 a.m. in the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Blvd in University City’s Delmar Loop).
 
Guardian critic Michael Billington describes the Donmar production of Lear as “vivid, clear and, thanks to a performance that reminds us why Derek Jacobi is a great classical actor, overwhelmingly moving.” Charles Spencer of the Telegraph calls it “the finest and most searching Lear I have ever seen” and notes that “almost every performance seems fresh-minted and psychologically persuasive.”
 
King Lear, commonly acknowledged as one of the great works of English literature, needs no introduction. Neither should Derek Jacobi who, besides a stellar career in live theatre, is also well known for his many roles in television and film. You may remember him as the title character on I, Claudius, Adolf Hitler on Inside the Third Reich or as the world’s worst Shakespearean actor on an episode of Frasier. He plays the Archbishop of Canterbury in the current hit The King’s Speech and over the years has appeared in a variety of film roles from Alan Turing in Breaking the Code to Francis Bacon in Love is the Devil.
 
Director Michael Grandage, who in 2002 succeeded Sam Mendes as Artistic Director of the Donmar, has been much honored for his stage work in Great Britain including notable productions of musicals (Merrily We Roll Along), classics (Hamlet, Don Carlos) and modern works (Albert Camus’ Caligula). He’s done well on this side of the pond as well, producing and/or directing several Broadway transfers including Red (2010 Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Direction), Mary Stuart (2009 Tony nominee for Best Revival of a Play) and Frost/Nixon (2007 Tony nominee for Best Play and Best Direction).
 
The Donmar production of Lear was nominated for five Olivier Awards including Best Revival, Best Actor (Jacobi), Best Director (Grandage), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Gina McKee as Goneril), and Best Sound Design (Adam Cork). The play was designed by Christopher Oram with lighting by Neil Austin, and cast members include Pippa Bennett-Warner (Cordelia), Justine Mitchell (Regan), Michael Hadley (Kent), Paul Jesson (Gloucester), Alec Newman (Edmund), Gwilym Lee (Edgar) and Ron Cook (the Fool). | Sarah Boslaugh
 
Tickets for the National Theatre Live presentation of King Lear are available online (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=95352) or from the Tivoli box office. Further information about the production is available from http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/61893/productions/donmar-warehouses-king-lear.html.

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