For several years, the Trinity College Dramatic Society has defied the elements and put on an annual outdoor production of Shakespeare. This year, their play of choice was King Lear. For those unfamiliar with the source material, King Lear revolved around an elderly king who cedes his throne to his two older daughters, Regan and Goneril, while disowning the youngest, Cordelia, for inadequately allowing her love. Lear, subsequently abandoned by Regan and Goneril, goes mad.

Alongside the machinations of Edmund, illegitimate son of the Duke of Gloucester, the repercussions of Lear's foolish act leads to tragedy for all involved. So much of a tragedy, in fact, that in 1681 writer Nahum Tate wrote a happy ending for the ply which was exclusively performed until the morbid sensibilities of the Victorians restored King Lear to its original gloom.

It is a common malady of Shakespeare performances, especially amateur ones, that they suffer either from a pronounced tendency towards either campiness, or a certain lilting on the part of the actors which makes the play incomprehensible. This performance of King Lear managed to not only avoid these pitfalls, but also provide a fresh and genuinely interesting interpretation of the source material. It was, for all parties involved, an unambiguous triumph.

Of particular note were Shakir Haq as Edmund, and Hannah Wilkinson as Goneril, who both gave compelling performances in typically villainous roles. Steven Conway, playing Lear, was also well cast.

Direction of the play by Jessica Stilwell, assisted by Celia Byrne, was marked throughout by attention to detail that enhanced various subtexts of the play, as well as sufficient light-handedness to prevent the source material from seeming artificial. While costumes and sets tended towards (perhaps somewhat extreme) minimalism, this did not detract from the emotional impact of the show.

For those who missed this year's performance, it is highly recommended that they keep a look out for further works featuring this cast and crew.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: Trinity College hosts King Lear in the quad
comments powered by Disqus