King Lear

STC King LearA tyrant. A father. Every inch a King. Sydney Theatre Company presents Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush in a new production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece at the Roslyn Packer Theatre from 24 November 2015.

The long-shared history of two of Australia’s leading artists, director Neil Armfield and actor Geoffrey Rush is at the centre of STC’s new production of King Lear – a master portrait of a man in decline, attempting to reconcile the reality he has constructed in his mind with the physical world around him.

The aging Lear (Rush) makes a surprising decision. He’ll hand over his kingdom to his three daughters and their husbands: the clever Goneril (Helen Buday) who is married to Albany (Alan Dukes); the dangerous Regan (Helen Thomson) wed to Cornwall (Colin Moody); and the courageous Cordelia (Eryn Jean Norvill), a possible wife to Burgundy (Nick Masters) or France (Wade Briggs).

To determine their share, each of the siblings must make a public declaration of their love for their father. Not even the intercession of his loyal friend Kent (Jacek Koman) can quell Lear’s irrational rage when Cordelia refuses. Her ‘nothing’ will reverberate in Lear’s reality for the rest of his life.

He is not the only father making disastrous decisions about his children. Gloucester (Max Cullen) is tricked by one son Edmund (Meyne Wyatt) about the motives of his other, Edgar (Mark Leonard Winter), with diabolical consequences for them and for the king. And as Lear descends into the chaos of his imagination, not even his trusted Fool (Robyn Nevin) can draw him away from the harrowing void in which he finds himself.

Armfield’s last production for STC was the 2013 adaptation by Andrew Bovell of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, to be remounted for performances in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in 2016. Rush is back at STC for the first time since 1993 when he played opposite newcomer Cate Blanchett in David Mamet’s Oleanna.

The first production to feature both Armfield and Rush in its list of credits was 1980 Nimrod production of Clouds by Michael Frayn, with Rush as Mime Consultant and Armfield as director. Their more familiar working relations (with Geoffrey as actor) began the following year in David Hare’s Teeth ‘n’ Smiles.

Since then, legendary collaborations have included STC’s The Government Inspector and Uncle Vanya, and for Belvoir, ground breaking productions of The Alchemist, The Small Poppies and Hamlet as well as the internationally touring Diary of a Madman and Exit the King. Armfield has also directed Rush in the films Candy and Holding the Man.

Director: Neil Armfield  Cast: Simon Barker, Wade Briggs, Helen Buday, Max Cullen, Alan Dukes, Eugene Gilfedder, Jacek Koman, Nick Masters, Colin Moody, Robyn Nevin, Eryn Jean Norvill, Geoffrey Rush, Phillip Slater, Helen Thomson, Mark Leonard Winter, Meyne Wyatt  Set Design: Robert Cousins  Costume Design: Alice Babidge  Lighting Design: Nick Schlieper  Composer: John Rodgers with Simon Barker and Phillip Slater  Sound Design: Stefan Gregory

King Lear
Roslyn Packer Theatre, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season: 28 November 2015 – 9 January 2016 (previews: 24 – 27 November)
Bookings: (02) 9250 1777 or online at: www.sydneytheatre.com.au

For more information, visit: www.sydneytheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Geoffrey Rush as King Lear – photo by James Green

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