#Review: Lear, Shakespeare North, Liverpool, 22.06.23


Rating: * (1 star)

Sadly, this beautiful theatre had only half occupancy last night, with many patrons leaving during the interval without returning.

Her Productions, Unseemly Women, and Girl Gang Manchester delivered a questionable performance of one of Shakespeare’s more notable and popular plays. Having reviewed the show last night, I am still at a loss as to the relevance of their deliberate pre-show publicity emphasizing an all-female cast. They tried too hard to place their all-female cast, who still acted and dressed in a ‘masculine’ manner.

At times, the acting was also highly dubious and irregular. There was an obvious contrast between the experience of Christine Mackie (Dr. Gaddas in Coronation Street) and the other actors. At stages, the shrill, screeching, and screaming of two of the actors seemed utterly out of place and mostly… annoying! Despite microphones, the actors playing Cornwall, Albany, and Kent shouted their lines, resulting in distorted sound. Looking at the cast list, said actors have secured other roles; therefore, you would think that their overeager, unfortunately amateur style of delivery would be a thing of the past. This was very disappointing for a professional production.

The set design was also overly simplistic, simply consisting of a few sheets and a large wooden table, which again seemed highly questionable in terms of lending itself to a professional production. It didn’t, rendering this overall an inferior production on all counts.

The play did not deviate in a positive way from the original. Therefore, they should have simply left it as it was. If the skill of adaptations is not executed well and is simply poorly experimental, then perhaps Shakespeare North was not the venue to host this production. It still covered power dynamics, greed, and revenge between Goneril and Regan, their subsequent plotting, treacherous revenge, and the final reconciliation with Cordelia. It still delivered classic quotes such as “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child,” which resonates with all parents at some point in their upbringing. However, this became diluted due to the many negatives surrounding this play.

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