King Lear (The RSC Shakespeare)


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An aging King invites disaster, when he abdicates to his corrupt, toadying daughters, and rejects his loving and honest one. Shakespeare muses on the consequences of actions, the role of princes and the realities of wielding power. Sir Ian McKellen gives a tour-de-force performance as Shakespeare's tragic monarch, in this special television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of one of the playwright's most enduring and haunting works.

King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly Shipwrecked twins are lost among love-sick aristocrats, unruly servants, mischievous pleasure seekers, clowns, and a puritan. With music as the bittersweet "food of love," all converge and conspire in this comic journey.

An aging monarch resolves to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, with consequences he little expects. His reason shattered in the storm of violent emotion that ensues, with his King Lear has ruled for many years.

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As age begins to overtake him, he decides to divide his kingdom amongst his children, living out his days without the burden of power. A proud man, he allows vanity to cloud his judgment, believing that he can relinquish the crown, but enjoy the same authority and respect he has always known. Misjudging his children's loyalty he soon finds himself stripped of all the trappings of state, wealth and power he had taken for granted.

Alone in the wilderness he is left to confront the mistakes of a life that has brought him to this point. Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video. Start your free trial.

Other performances of King Lear

A tragic story of ignorance and deceit, as King Lear is unable to see beyond the lies of his eldest daughters. Watch our synopsis film or read the story of Shakespeare's King Lear.

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Sir Antony Sher on playing Lear, Shakespeare's misogyny and Kevin Spacey - BBC Newsnight

Some parts of this page won't work property. Please reload or try later. Before dividing his kingdom, however, Lear challenges his daughters to prove which of them loves him best. His two elder daughters play along, making passionate speeches about the depth of their love for him, but his youngest, horrified by their excesses, refuses to say anything.

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But this is no ordinary man, and this no ordinary island. You might also like. Sir Ian McKellen gives a tour-de-force performance as Shakespeare's tragic monarch, in this special television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company production of one of the playwright's most enduring and haunting works. Misjudging his children's loyalty he soon finds himself stripped of all the trappings of state, wealth and power he had taken for granted. You may also like. The sisters' army still manages to defeat that of Cordelia. As he descends into madness he learns the error of his ways.

Her unwillingness to exaggerate her feelings enrages Lear and he banishes her forever. He divides his country between his elder daughters and their husbands.

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On learning that Cordelia will no longer inherit anything from Lear, the Duke of Burgundy withdraws his proposal of marriage. She leaves with the King of France who loves her more now that she has proved her honesty.

When Lear's rash behaviour is challenged by his most faithful servant, the Earl of Kent, he is banished too, but returns in disguise to serve his old master in secret, calling himself Caius. In a similar misunderstanding, the Earl of Gloucester is misled by his scheming illegitimate son, Edmund, into believing that his legitimate son, Edgar, wishes to murder him in order to inherit his title and lands. Edgar escapes his father's anger by running away and disguising himself as a mad beggar called 'Poor Tom'.

The plot: King Lear

Lear soon discovers that, by passing his authority to his daughters, he has damaged his relationship with them so much that he is refused a home with either of them. He finds himself banished into a storm with only his Fool a jester and the disguised Kent for company.

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  • King Lear review – Sher shores up his place in Shakespeare royalty!
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As he descends into madness he learns the error of his ways. Gloucester's support for the displaced King angers Goneril and Regan and he too finds himself cast out and defenceless and in the care of Poor Tom, whom he still believes to be a beggar rather than his own son. As both Lear and Gloucester learn the true nature of their children, their hopes rest with Cordelia, newly returned to Britain in charge of a French army. As Cordelia's army prepares to meet that led by her sisters and their husbands, she is reconciled with Lear, who begs her forgiveness.

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