The tragedy of King Lear receives an outstanding performance in an all-star cast led by Britain’s senior classical actor, Paul Scofield. He is joined by Alec McCowen as Gloucester, Kenneth Branagh as The Fool, Harriet Walter as Gonerill, Sara Kestelman as Regan and Emilia Fox as Cordelia. This is the 9th recording of Shakespeare plays undertaken by Naxos AudioBooks in conjunction with Cambridge University Press, and is directed by John Tydeman. It was released to mark the 80th birthday of Paul Scofield in January 2002.
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- M. Y. L.
No life in this Lear.
Any production of the play King Lear is anchored in the performance of Lear, and in this production I found the brilliant actor, Paul Scoffield's Lear to be lacking. I have listened many times to the Arkangel version with Trevor Peacock and is greatly more taking and engaging, as he plays Lear with some fire.
Paul Scoffield is a great actor and has done some great Lear's but this I fear this is not one of them. (There is a hard to get movie that he made which I found to be quite engaging (youtube)). In this audio-production, he has not life, no animation. In the opening scenes when Lear is throwing a tantrum, Scoffield's Lear barely raised his voice. It is if he was just mouthing the words.
The other characters that make the play are Lord and servant Kent as well as The Fool. In this production the character who plays Kent is good, but once again lacks the fire of the performance by Anton Lesser in the Arkangel production.
The actors who play Lear's daughters do a good job and it is interesting to hear the different take they give the parts than their counter parts with the Arkangel production. Both I find equally engaging though they are different interpretations of the characters.
Kent is one of the most engaging and interesting characters outside of Lear.
Trevor Peacock as Lear.
what kind of question is this? Shakespeare wrote the play with the characters it has, and none seemed superfluous. Why would one want to take a character out. It would be a different story then.
Each production of Shakespeare's play is an interpretation and the success lies with the actors and their performance. Not every production is guaranteed to be good, even if it has a giant of acting such as Paul Scoffield. One must I think listen to more than one version to get a real feel for the play.