King Lear

3ydd i 6ed Awst
Cyfarwyddwyd gan Henry Ward

Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides
— Cordelia, Act I Sc 1

You see me here, you gods, a poor old man, As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
— Lear, Act II Sc 4

King Lear is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. In a fit of rage and vanity, Lear banishes his youngest daughter Cordelia and divides his kingdom between her sisters, Gonerill and Regan.

Cast out by them into a storm that echoes the turmoil in his mind, he slowly learns that power and pomp are an illusion.

In this production, set in the ancient Celtic past, the Abbey Shakespeare Players under director Henry Ward bring out the essential humanity in Shakespeare's retelling of this ancient tale.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
— Lear, Act III Sc 2

Director's note

Lear is neither conventional nor well-mannered. It takes place in a dangerous pagan world. There is an archetypal resonance to this story that it shares with some of the powerful underlying themes of Greek tragedy. Even though Lear is often bleak, there are moments of transcendent beauty.


Lear, King of BritainRichard Carwardine
Gonerill, his eldest daughterHeledd Hart
Regan, his second daughterGeorgina Ferry
Cordelia, his youngest daughterMary Glynn
Duke of Albany, husband of GonerillAndrew Frank
Duke of Cornwall, husband of ReganJoe Kao
King of FranceWill Long
Duke of BurgundyRichard Makin
Earl of GloucesterIan Wood
Edgar, his eldest sonEd Long
Edmund, his younger, illegitimate sonAndrew Cleaver
Earl of KentGeoffrey Summers
Fool, attendant on LearRichard Mitchley
Oswald, Gonerill's stewardHenry Morris
Old manMike Hall
Doctor, attendant on CordeliaLinda Kirk
KnightCharlie Guest
OfficerWill Long
GentlemanTony Shepherd
NurseAnn Christys
LadyAnn Shepherd
GentlewomanJane Morris
MessengerKatie Weatherall
CuranRichard Morris
Servants, crowd etc.Angharad Evans, Hermione Miltiadou, Harry Booth & members of the company


DirectorHenry Ward
Assistant directorGeorgina Ferry
SoundscapeRichard Morris, Henry Ward
Costume designerStephanie Ross
Lighting designer & Technical directorDavid Long
Technical assistantAndy Reader
Wardrobe assistantJane Kipling
PropsPenny Miltiadou, Kate Standen
Textual advisersRichard Carwardine & Linda Kirk
Poster & Website designEd Long
SetRobert Fitzmartin & Henry VIII

Sound and music

MusiciansBob Dent, Dan Webster, Simon Denison