Shakespeare’s famed tragedy will be broadcast live in Portsmouth

Kevin R McNally as Lear
 in the Globe production     Picture: Marc Brenner
Kevin R McNally as Lear in the Globe production Picture: Marc Brenner
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WHEREAS Hamlet is the Shakespearean role many younger actors want to get their teeth into, King Lear is the one for those of a more mature vintage.

The play is being broadcast live from The Globe Theatre in London around the UK on Thursday at 7.30pm, including the Odeon in Port Solent and Vue at Gunwharf Quays.

Kevin McNally, a veteran of stage and screen – and one of only three actors to have appeared in all five Pirates of the Caribbean films – takes the role of the king who divides his kingdom between his three daughters. His decision set in motion a chain of events in one of The Bard’s most devastating tragedies.

McNally’s career runs from writing nine episodes of classic TV crime caper Minder, to sharing the stage with Maggie Smith in the original stage play of Alan Bennett’s The Lady In The Van.

For months after he landed the role of King Lear, McNally was totally immersed in mastering what’s called the Everest of acting.

The CinemaLive transmission is the first from the Globe, with its open air pit, 20 years after it opened in London. The chance of rain pouring down on the audience and the front of the stage will add a spectacularly live element to the broadcast.

But Lear, where the half-mad King wanders the moors after giving up his kingdom to his viciously cruel daughters, is famous for its stormy scenes. With seven cameras and lots of close-ups it’s an energetic, fast-moving production ideally suited to the live broadcast.

McNally said: ‘I’ve never done it, it’s as fresh to me as to the audience.’

This cut of the play, to three hours, focuses firmly on the intense family drama, particularly Lear’s tragic relationship with his most beloved daughter, Cordelia, as a younger generation turn brutally upon their elders.

Critics have praised the ‘naked emotional spontaneity in his fine performance’. One four-star review concluded he gave the great Sir Ian McKellen, a famed King Lear (who is about to return to the role at Chichester Festival Theatre), a run for his money.

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