The story of King Lear’s folly and descent into madness is among the greatest of Shakespearian tragedies. As told by the Bowler Crab theatre company on Saturday November 25, its deconstruction of character moved starkly to its inevitable climax, in which the whole audience is involved. We become part of the most moving scene of Lear’s outpouring of grief for his dead daughter Cordelia, when he rails against the world’s injustice and inhumanity.
If the stage setting was deliberately sparse, the language was rich and mellifluous, with some of Shakespeare’s finest verse, which repeatedly struck home with forceful insight into the human condition.
Lear himself was played admirably by professional actor, Paddy Cooper. He was supported by an able cast, consisting of professional and experienced amateur actors, amongst whom Matt Grief was notable as Kent, Julius Wills as Edmund and Keiran Grief as Edgar.
The female roles were well acted, but the acoustics of St Mary’s, Rye’s Norman church, were not always kind to the upper register and some of the comic repartee from the clown was missed. The play was brilliantly directed by Stephen John, who also played the Duke of Cornwall. It was well received and fully deserved a wider audience.
Donna John said later: “The church was an amazing space in which to perform King Lear and we have received some great audience feedback. The audience last night was a little disappointing for such a quality show, as we have had sell out shows in Tenterden and Hastings, but the church did not look empty by any means and those who attended were very appreciative”.
Photo : Kenneth Bird