Bell Shakespeare’s King Lear opens tonight in Sydney

Robert Menzies stars in Bell Shakespeare's King Lear photo by Brett BoardmanFor the first time since 2010, Bell Shakespeare presents King Lear, starring veteran actor of the stage Robert Menzies in the titular role. The production stages Shakespeare’s epic of the imagination in an intimate setting as Australian audiences won’t have seen it before.

This new production is presented in the round in the company’s theatre space The Neilson Nutshell in Sydney until 20 July, before touring to the Fairfax Studio at Arts Centre Melbourne from 25 July – 11 August 2024.

Directed by Artistic Director Peter Evans, this King Lear features Robert Menzies as the mad monarch. Menzies brings a brilliant and entirely unique interpretation to the character, reflecting his four decades of experience working on some of the great productions in Australia’s theatre history, collaborating with acclaimed theatre makers including Barrie Kosky, Jim Sharman and Jean-Pierre Mignon.

Evans and designer Anna Tregloan have drawn from the play’s pagan setting, with the action unfolding beneath a sculptural model of the solar system that extends out over the audience. In this space evocative of a mythical past, central themes of truth, politics, family, succession, authority and religion are explored by the ensemble cast.

“If one were to describe the plot of King Lear it could sound like a fairytale or the set-up for a joke: three sisters – one good, two evil – a controlling father, a fool, a storm,” said Artistic Director, Peter Evans. “But in the hands of Shakespeare, the complexities and nuances of this great play create an astonishing portrait of a family and a country torn apart.

“All our assumptions are upended, our loyalties tested, the depth of our emotions revealed. As in the best of Shakespeare, we can find ourselves in the unlikeliest of characters and situations. For this production, we wanted audiences to be close to the action and the actors in the intimate settings of The Neilson Nutshell and the Fairfax Studio.”

“You’ll be immersed in the domestic tragedy and get the opportunity to see one of Australia’s finest classical actors Robert Menzies, who I’ve been working with for nearly 20 years, as he tackles one of the great roles in Western theatre,” said Evans.

Menzies is joined onstage by Melissa Kahraman as Cordelia and Fool, known for her recent television roles in Stan series Prosper and Bad Behaviour. Other cast members include Tamara Lee Bailey (Regan), Shameer Birges (Albany), Jeremi Campese (Oswald), Alex King (Edgar/France), James Lugton (Gloucester), Lizzie Schebesta (Goneril), Michael Wahr (Cornwall), Janine Watson (Kent) and Darius Williams (Edmund).

The creative team is made up of Tiffany Wong (Associate Director), Anna Tregloan (Set and Costume Designer), Nigel Poulton (Movement, Fight and Intimacy Director), Benjamin Cisterne (Lighting Designer), Max Lyandvert (Composer and Sound Designer), Jack Starkey-Gill (Voice Coach) and James Evans (Dramaturg).

King Lear
The Neilson Nutshell – Pier 2/3, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season continues to 20 July 2024

Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 25 July – 11 August 2024

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Robert Menzies stars in Bell Shakespeare’s King Lear – photo by Brett Boardman