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Review: Lear at Hope Mill Theatre is ‘compelling and full of massive performances’

King Lear has been produced at the Hope Mill Theatre, featuring an all-female and non-binary cast.

Her Productions, a small company with big ideas are a close-knit team of Manchester-based female theatre makers looking to push the envelope of theatre in the city and beyond.

And that’s just what they have done with Lear, a joint effort by HER Productions, Unseemly Women, and Girl Gang Manchester.

Although not confirmed, it may be the first-ever all-female and non-binary production of Shakespeare’s classic King Lear.

“Lear” is a compelling and emotionally charged production that brings Shakespeare’s tragedy to life with a talented cast and a fresh perspective.

Under the direction of Kayleigh Hawkins, this rendition of “King Lear” offers a thought-provoking exploration of power, family dynamics, and the human condition.

Christine Mackie, known for her role in Coronation Street, delivers a powerful performance as Lear, embodying the complexities of the titular character with great depth.

Mackie navigates Lear’s transformation from a proud and authoritative king to a broken and vulnerable man with tremendous skill and nuance.

Her portrayal captures the range of Lear’s emotions, from their commanding presence in the early scenes to the heartbreaking madness that consumes him.

Mackie’s Lear is portrayed as fragile and devastated, displaying a range of emotions from rage to self-pity.

Alice Proctor shines as Edgar, presenting a captivating portrayal of the legitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester.

Proctor skillfully conveys Edgar’s journey from a victim of injustice to a figure of resilience and redemption.

The cast, particularly Haylie Jones as Edmund and Fiona Scott as Gloucester, put in massive performances that stand out in a crowded field of talent.

Haylie Jones brings a captivating energy to the role of Edmund, the cunning and conniving illegitimate son.

Jones infuses Edmund with charisma and manipulative charm, making the character a compelling antagonist.

Her portrayal effectively captures Edmund’s ambition and ruthlessness, while also revealing glimpses of vulnerability and humanity beneath the surface.

The supporting cast delivers strong performances, with Gina Fillingham as Goneril, Teddy Oyediran as Regan, and Ella Heywood as Cordelia.

Fillingham and Oyediran skillfully portray the power-hungry and treacherous sisters, exhibiting a chilling blend of manipulation and ambition.

Heywood’s Cordelia embodies purity and unwavering loyalty, providing a stark contrast to her scheming siblings.

Fiona Scott delivers a standout performance as Gloucester, capturing the character’s journey from blind loyalty to a profound understanding of truth and redemption.

Adelina Lece-Bere brings depth to the role of Kent, portraying loyalty and devotion with conviction.

Phoebe Farrington’s portrayal of the Fool adds moments of levity and profound insight, serving as a trusted companion to Lear throughout his tumultuous journey.

The production’s set design and costumes are visually striking, creating a timeless and atmospheric world with exposed brickwork.

The staging is minimal, with clever use of lighting, and the music includes David Bowie and perhaps unusually, What Do I Get by the Buzzcocks.

The use of lighting and sound design effectively enhances the dramatic tension and emotional impact of key moments.

Under Kayleigh Hawkins’s skilful direction, the production maintains a steady pace, allowing the tragedy to unfold with intensity and clarity.

The complex relationships and emotional dynamics are skillfully navigated, keeping the audience engaged and invested throughout.

The final scene, where Lear cradles Cordelia, showcases Mackie’s harrowing portrayal of grief.

Overall, “Lear” is a riveting and thought-provoking production that showcases the timeless power of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

With a talented cast and creative vision, this rendition offers a fresh perspective on the complexities of power, family, and the human condition. It is a must-see for theatre enthusiasts and lovers of Shakespeare alike.

It’s also important to take a moment to mention the venue, Hope Mill Theatre. An incredible community asset in Ancoats, it’s a true hidden gem putting on some of the most cutting-edge productions.

At the end of the show, a cast member made an appeal for support for the Hope Mill Theatre, a venue that receives no public funding – but consistently puts on cutting-edge theatre with incredibly interesting productions.

You can’t beat ambition, and Hope Mill is definitely full of it.

So if you go down to watch, why not dig deep so they can continue to put on a great range of shows, as they are a rare and precious commodity in Manchester.

You can catch Lear at Hope Mill Theatre Wednesday 7th June — Sunday 18th June, 7:30pm

Get your tickets by clicking here.

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