The information on: `King Lear'

What Is It?

Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa's visually arresting yet hollow production of King Lear which fails to recapture his successes in the late-1980s with Macbeth and Medea.

Who's In It?

Nigel Hawthorne (right) lacks intensity as the earlier Lear: the titanic ego, the tearing rage and that sense of Lear as a force of nature are all missing. Excellent actors (Michael Maloney, Sian Thomas and John Carlisle) are left with nothing to fall back on but their own techniques.

What They Say About It

"With every passing production, this director seems a dismayingly shallower artist than the genius we took him to be... Working with a British cast exposes Ninagawa's weaknesses - an evident preference, say, for theatrical effects over character and textual profundity," Paul Taylor, The Independent.

"We're left with a poignant, warm hearted, occasionally even comical Lear, not a majestic savage burning on his invisible `wheel of fire'... The most visually striking revival of Lear needs some sort of volcano at its epicentre - and that, I fear, is wanting," Benedict Nightingale, The Times.

"But Sir Nigel's distracted monarch rarely stoops to the vulgarity of feeling anything intense. Here's a King Lear in mild-mannered miniature, who undertakes no spiritual journey. Hawthorne's monarch is endearingly vulnerable and when reconciled with Cordelia displays a touching,regretful sweetness. But it's not enough," Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard.

Where You Can See It

King Lear is at the Barbican, Silk St, London EC2 (0171-638 8891) to 20 Nov

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