Directed by Jonathan Miller in 1982, King Lear is part of the BBC’s project to film all of Shakespeare’s plays. It is performed as though on a theatre stage with minimum props. At Lear’s court, the players are attired in black Jacobean costumes that reflect the king’s ‘darker purpose’ (I.i, line 35). Though Cordelia wears a white headdress and shawl to indicate her purity. The overall effect is that the court is aggressively banal with nasty schemes being hatched in a disturbingly calm and superficial space. Even the characters speak in the same moderate tone, a featureless wall Michael Hordern as the frustrated Lear can only rail against.
Amidst this trite behaviour, the Fool supposedly provides witty relief as he satirises Lear’s decision to handover his kingdom to his two eldest daughters. However, Frank Middlemass is a lifeless Fool who delivers his lines perfunctorily. The sharp-tongued exchanges Shakespeare wrote for the king and Fool become -Continue reading>