When the king comes to Kronborg
A brand new production of King Lear kicks off the first three nights of this summer’s Shakespeare Festival in a three-part program for lovers of all things Bard.
Famously considered by Irish playwright George Bernhard Shaw to be the tragedy that no writer will ever improve upon, King Lear is the story of a legendary pre-Roman king of England. Weary of the throne, he decides to divide the entire realm between his three daughters according to their love for him. His two most vocal daughters get everything, while the third, who fails to satisfactorily express love for her father, loses out. Infuriated by her inability to demonstrate her affections, Lear cuts her out of all claims to land or power. Secretly however, his two favoured daughters believe their father to be a foolish old man and privately celebrate their success at having duped him. Lear, now powerless, soon suffers at the hands of his disrespectful daughters as Britain descends into war with the French. Slowly madness seizes the wretched King as he struggles to discern who he can and cannot trust …
Characterised by its music, poetry and a knowing twinkle in the eye, the great tragedy is performed here at Kronborg in the traditional Elizabethan style. The production, directed by Bill Brockhurst, a British actor/director of both stage and screen, is garnering favourable words in advance, with particular emphasis on the emotional immediacy of this new version. Certain to be a magnificent spectacle on the castle grounds, the organisers promise a magical evening “humming with international atmosphere and world class theatre”.
HamletScenen has long been the vanguard for Shakespeare productions in Denmark. Their success relies on their innovative approach to the legendary texts, which they constantly reinvigorate to attract new viewers while remaining faithful to their core audience. Based in Helsingør, they operate out of offices within Kronborg itself, a setting which features prominently in the play Hamlet. This production of King Lear will mark a prestigious collaboration between HamletScenen and Sam Wanamaker’s pioneering (London-based) Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The company is globally recognised as one of the world’s foremost theatrical authorities on the Bard.
Events run from this Thursday (August 1) to next Tuesday (August 10), and King Lear is followed by The Merchant of Venice from the Dresden State Theatre and open-air screenings of Kenneth Branagh’s epic Hamlet – a sumptuous film production from 1996. All performances and screenings are in English with Danish subtitles.
Shakespeare Festival at Hamlet’s Castle: King Lear
Krongborg Castle, Kronborg 13, Helsingør; starts Thu, ends Sat Aug 3, performances at 20:00; tickets: 395kr, groups of five or more: 250kr, 4921 6979, www.billetten.dk; www.hamletscenen.dk