Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear comes to the Main Stage of the National Theatre of Greece, with Yannis Houvardas introducing us to a world in which power means everything and challenging it leads nowhere.
The play charts Lear’s journey into darkness, inner desolation and madness, following his decision to abdicate and divide his kingdom between his three daughters. The tragedy that unfolds will leave none of the protagonists unscathed.
Written in 1608, Shakespeare’s bleakest work deals with the question of power, the decline that comes with its loss, and the complexities of family relationships. Assisted by a multi-layered set design that extends into the bowels of the Ziller Building and embraces the art of cinema with extensive use of live video, the director plunges us into the mind of Lear: a man who has casually surrendered his authority, a child who seeks in vain to be reunited with his mother, and a stiff-necked patriarch who upholds a rigid code not unlike that of a criminal organisation.
Taking the translation of Dionysis Kapsalis as his starting point, and with a band of three musicians and a large company of established and younger actors, Yannis Houvardas offers his own reading of King Lear in a production in which the audience, just like the main characters of the tragedy, will take part in a grim mind game, and in which the boundaries between theatrical experience and cinematic illusion are as blurred as the line that separates reason from madness in the phrases uttered by the deposed king’s Fool. The role of Lear is played by Leonidas Kakouris.