Jan 22

King Lear William Shakespeare Théâtre de Nesle Review – Paris

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King Lear  William Shakespeare Théâtre de Nesle Review – ParisHow do you put Shakespeare’s King Lear on a stage the size of a postage stamp with 6 actors (3m,3f) running 90 minutes?

The answer is – carefully.

This is a very careful production with everything timed meticulously.  The 6 actors obviously play many parts each and the changes of costume/character are carefully thought through and executed with a seamless precision; one actor walking past another who is ready to hand the scarf and take the jacket that indicates the character change (for example).  The staging is organised and choreographed to the centimetre and the use of the sparse décor (rostra particularly) highly effective.


The text has been cut intelligently and some of the subplots sacrificed to bring the running time to the 90 minutes that the theatre demands.


What the production lacks is a certain passion and a rhythm.  The poetry of the verse has been sacrificed in the interests of clarity – creating a rather controlled and intellectual production.  But then this is a question of personal taste when it comes to Shakespeare and I prefer passion.  The intricacies of the plots and the machinations of Goneril and Regan – not to mention Edmund – are abundantly clear and easy to follow; the surtitles enabling those whose English is not “native” to keep up to speed.


On the whole a huge “bravo” to the entire team and a production well worth watching if you are in Paris soon.


Colin David Reese