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Sam Mendes' new 'King Lear' opens at the National Theatre

25-Jan-2014 • Bond News

The "Skyfall" director has turned his attention to something a little more classical than the 23rd action-adventure instalment in the franchise he helmed back in 2011 and 2012.

Although his latest stage offering, King Lear, is not without a twist or two of its own. Writes the Evening Standard reviewer: "Sam Mendes’s modern-dress production locates the action in a totalitarian setting akin to North Korea. The production’s epic scale emphasises that this is a drama about politics as well as a portrait of a disintegrating family. Yet the political slant doesn’t stop the collapsing relationships and morbid psychology being realised with piercing authenticity."

Says the New York Times: "There’s no denying that Mr. Mendes and Mr. Beale show plenty of guts in pursuing the interpretation they set forth so boldly. Lear, the self-destructing creator of the most ill-conceived retirement plan in world literature, is hardly a likable man to begin with. He’s arrogant, shortsighted, quick tempered and cruel to those who love him best."

And Variety even offered up a review: "Scenes are clearly placed with an abundance of furniture and props. Furthermore, the production indulges in an increasing battery of special effects — visible lightning flashes, haze, smoke, aircraft sounds. And when, early on, Goneril (spike-heeled Kate Fleetwood, dressed like Wallis Simpson) complains of “the rank and not-to-be-endured riots” of Lear’s “knights and squires,” audiences can sympathize since Mendes has already brought on Lear’s huge retinue of lusty soldiers hurling themselves across another giant table, drinking and singing as they go."

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