Review: King Lear, Mill Productions

King Lear, by Mill Productions at Mill Theatre Dundrum

Reviewed by Kaitlyn Culliton and Ema Vyroubalova

With King Lear currently on the English Leaving Certificate, this rendition of the Shakespeare classic primarily has the secondary school audience in mind but won’t disappoint adult Shakespeare enthusiasts and theatre-lovers.

One of the greater accomplishments of the production is its ability to compress the original Renaissance play-text (which often runs up to four hours in performance) into a briskly-paced show that lasts just over two hours without sacrificing any of the characters, major plot and thematic points or well-known passages.

The cast of Mill Theatre’s inhouse company features a slightly younger and more vibrant Lear (Lenny Hayden) than has been usual in other contemporary productions of the play. His daughters are fully encapsulated in carefully constructed and individualized theatrical identities: Goneril’s (Eilish Rafferty) cruelty is more tempered as well as justifiably opportunistic while Regan’s (Sarah Joyce) genuinely sadistic persona with its nefarious motivations comes across as a real driving force behind the tragedy. From the other characters, the Fool (Shane O’Regan) stands out as equally lewd and prophetic, bringing out the meaning buried in his comedic role through both a physically and verbally masterful interpretation of the character.

Gerard Bourke provides an abstract minimalistic set, consisting of three slender triangular pyramids set on a platform and surrounded by a metal railing topped with multiple spheres. The whole construction is evocative of the central concerns of the play: the royal crown, the sisterly trio, and the influence of celestial bodies on human fates. This seemingly simple set is nonetheless fully utilized as the actors integrate it into their performances, making it alternatively into a prop, a backdrop, and even a gymnastic apparatus. The artistic merit of the production is borne out both by successive full houses and performances added to the month-long run due to popular demand.

10:00 am performances in October: 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

1:30 pm performances in October: 13, 20

7:30 pm performances in October: 14, 21, 22

Directed by Geoff O’Keeffe; tickets: €14 Students and €18 Regular.

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