Renowned Shakespearean actor Michael Pennington, four time Olivier award nominated, plays the title role in a new production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy King Lear, which visits Theatre Royal Brighton in May.
Director Max Webster (The Lorax, Old Vic; Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s Globe; Twelfth Night, Regent’s Park) leads a creative team including designer Adrian Linford (Dear Lupin), Olivier Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Chivers (Oresteia and 1984) and composer Matthew Bugg (Hound of the Baskervilles) for Royal & Derngate Northampton’s major new production.
This epic sees an ageing tyrant’s decision to divide his kingdom tears his family apart, sparks catastrophic civil war and destroys all that he has. Driven from his home, King Lear endures madness and great suffering as he battles a great storm. Yet with madness he finds reason, after betrayal he discovers loyalty and through his suffering a better world emerges.
Michael Pennington has played numerous roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a career spanning over 50 years, and was co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company. Recent notable performances have been as Edgar in Strindberg’s The Dance of Death, at the Gate Theatre, John of Gaunt in Richard II (RSC), and as Anthony Blunt in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies at the Rose Theatre Kingston. He played the role of Lear to great acclaim at the Shakespeare Center New York in 2014. This new production will see Michael play the role in the UK for the first time. “Whether you’ve seen the play many times or never, I think we can promise you a terrific evening,” said Pennington. “I am very proud to be on the road playing King Lear in Max Webster’s brilliant production with a tremendous cast, criss-crossing the country in this greatest of all Shakespeare’s dramas, a modern morality tale whose themes are as relevant today as when the play was written.”
Pennington is joined by a distinguished cast of thirteen actors. Goneril is played by Catherine Bailey (Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s Globe, The 39 Steps, West End) and Sally Scott (King Charles III, West End) as Regan. They join Beth Cooke (King Lear, Abbey Theatre Dublin, Much Ado About Nothing, Old Vic) playing Cordelia and Pip Donaghy (seasons with 7:84 and Joint Stock) as Gloucester. Other cast members include Shane Attwooll (Cornwall), Reginald Edwards (Burgundy), Joshua Elliott (Fool), Gavin Fowler (Edgar), Caleb Frederick (France), Scott Karim (Edmund), Tom McGovern (Kent) and Daniel O’Keefe (Oswald).
I look forward to our talented cast bringing a gripping new interpretation to audiences across the UK,” Webster commented. ““In the year that marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it’s thrilling to be directing one of his greatest tragedies, and to be working with Michael who is one of the most respected Shakespearean actors of our time.
King Lear comes to Theatre Royal Brighton on Tues 3 – Sat 7 May, 2016.
Michael Pennington image by Marc Brenner