King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly ... See full summary »

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King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly flatter the old man in return for favor, he banishes her and turns for support to his remaining daughters. But Goneril and Regan have no love for him and instead plot to take all his power from him. In a parallel, Lear's loyal courtier Gloucester favors his illegitimate son Edmund after being told lies about his faithful son Edgar. Madness and tragedy befall both ill-starred fathers. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Brian Blessed shines.
21 March 2008 | by (Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Like many of Bill Shakespeare's play King Lear is open to many interpretations. Should the old sire of Pagan Britain be played as a once great man now crippled by senility or a powerful King though stripped from his regency still powerfully defiant against his treasonous children and unbending mind?

Personally I don't give a hoot in what way they portray Lear as long as the performance impresses me and Brian Blessed did strike a cord.

His booming voice and his ample frame, even more present by the thick robes he wears create a Lear of great power.(watch how the the clothing changes to more delicate gowns when Lear is in his weaker moments, even to a white thin robe when he has come to terms with his insanity and is reunited with Cordelia, but that could all be a coincidence, hahaha) Although some my find Blessed's gibes and quaint gestures and intonations overacting, I liked them. (I love a good ham by the way.) Brian Blessed really carries the film and his boisterous Lear is just as impressive as the powerful performance by James Earl Jones. (Both drool at some point of the piece, but one thing I learned Shakespeare is better with a lot of Alien-like salivating.)

The supporting roles are good. Iain Stuart Robertson plays Kent and handles his role nicely and Philipa Peak is a serene Cordelia, albeit she seems a little uncomfortable with role.

Hildegarde Neill is a strange choice for the fool, but it works. If you really want to see her shine watch MacBeth with Jason Connery, she is excellent there as one of the Weird Sisters. Jason Riddington gives a fine portrayal of the villainous Edmund, though not as impressive as when Raoul Julia played the bastard(pun intended, hahaha, Shakespeare humor. Funny? Well, actually No)

The role that really impressed me besides Brian Blessed was Mark Burgess as Edgar, although Edgar's part doesn't feature any real shining moment besides when he feigns madness as "Poor Tom", Burgess handles these madness scenes with finesse. Playing the role more calmly and reserved letting his eyes speak the madness rather than a more physical performance with a lot of shouting and jumping, like many others play Poor Tom. (for instance René Auberjonois)

All in all; a nice production of Bill's majestic drama despite the probably tight budget, but hey, you watch Bill's plays for the acting not the dressing.


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