By Jake Goodall
Rain falls in the heart of Southport during this Shakespeare Classic produced by Mercury’s Wings Mercury’s Wings’ production of King Lear is perfectly nuanced against the concrete jungle of The Smith Collective in Southport as this classic is brought to life by professional actors.
Outdoor Theatre is something usually unseen on the Gold Coast however Mercury’s Wings’ production brings the audience out to the picturesque Oculus at The Smith Collective in Southport. Audiences are instructed to bring pillows and blankets for this perfect outdoor experience seated on the steps outside shops and restaurants.
Directed and produced by Claudine Anderson, Mercury’s Wings’ King Lear is a pure spectacle from top to bottom. This company’s rendition of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy is practically perfect in every way. King Lear is wonderfully produced and remains a stark reminder of family values and mental health support.
King Lear, in preparation for his old age, divides his power between two of his daughters and becomes destitute and insane. After the English Restoration, King Lear was often adapted for audiences who disliked its dark and depressing tone. But fast forward to the 21st century, it is presented in its original form and is widely regarded as one of Shakespeare’s supreme achievements.
Anderson is a talented and extremely experienced director, and it can be seen throughout
this production. The direction is fantastic right down to the intricacies of the characters. It is
clear that Anderson has taught every actor the art of performing Shakespeare and the
difficulties that come with it.
The set is simple and plain, ingeniously utilisng the existing area of The Oculus and placing the action of the show right there into modern life. The simple, creative costumes imitate regality and royalty. The three sisters (Cordelia, Regan & Goneril) are all in perfect regal capes and dresses to indicate their step up into royal life.
The highlight of this production is the cylindrical rain that came down at the end of Act 1 through to the start of Act 2. It simple wouldn’t be a Shakespeare tragedy without a storm! This adds a fantastic element to the play, something that isn’t usually seen on stage.
The technical elements by Anne-Maree are smart but modest. Rock audio soundscapes to transition scenes bring this production into the 21st century.
The three sisters, Goneril (Nicole Amaya), Cordelia (Isabella Laredo-Standage) and
Regan (Kenal Woodhams) are all perfectly casted as they play Lear’s daughters with grace and pride. James Anderson as Edmund and the Fool is a standout actor in this production. The way Anderson switches from the sly bastard to the hilarious fool is phenomenal.
Patrick Mitchell as King Lear is rough and tough. Watching his descent into madness is both saddening and perfect at the same time. Hearing his cries after all his family has died is gut wrenching until the very last moment of his ultimate demise.
Rounding out this star-studded cast is Deborah Joy as Gloucester, Sean Curran as Kent, Bailey Seymour-Smith as Edgar/Poor Tom and Will Neville as Oswald. The ensemble work in the cast is sublime. The team work well together to create cohesive moments of ensemble work.
James Kerwin as the Old Man is an interesting and commendable choice for this play. Kerwin is an excellent, experienced actor who also happens to be deaf, however this is in no way hinderance for the play. This show opens with a beautiful acknowledgement of country with Kerwin signing for the deaf community in attendance.
The only setback is that, despite the performers pushing as hard as they can to project, it is difficult to hear them during the phenomenal rain sequence. Despite this, their movements drive the story forward, so it is still possible to understand the plot even without the dialogue.
Overall King Lear by Mercury’s Wings is a fantastic production held outdoors. All the actors are perfectly cast in their roles and all that’s left to say is BRAVO!
King Lear runs until the 3 rd of September, book your tickets now!