Slaying, eye-gouging and kiss-filled: Ciara Fitzpatrick wanders down to Dramsoc’s production of King Lear
Dramsoc’s production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear is an epic undertaking; it runs for 150 minutes, with an interval coming only after the first 90 minutes. The play is on this year’s Leaving Certificate English course, and thus the audience was comprised mainly of sixth year students, who seemed to enjoy the performance.
However it was interesting to note that the scenes prompting the biggest response from the audience were the scenes of most dramatic tension, such as kisses and eye gouging, and slain characters being carried off stage by stage hands. Nonetheless Dramsoc prevailed in putting on a professional, accomplished performance of Shakespeare’s tale of an elderly king betrayed by his own daughters. The play begins with King Lear resolving to divide his land among his daughters, by merit of their declarations of love for him; banishment, deception, betrayal, lust, violence and death ensue.
Onstage props are used sparsely, but the minimalist setting was contrasted with the brightly coloured costumes of the cast, which merit special attention. Costume managers Julie O’Leary and Amanda Coakley have created some striking representations of the characters, with an interesting use of body paint. Lear’s white costume and face paint proved very convincing in portraying an old, wizened man being played by a university student. The daughters wear Grecian style gowns, with the wrathful Goneril and Regan wearing purple and red with matching body paint – the bloody hues hint at the evil they will accomplish. In contrast, the angelic Cordelia, the one honest daughter whom Lear rejects, wears a yellow and white gown, and her face and body are not painted but shimmer with golden glitter. The use of colour is effective in helping the audience identify the characters; the colour identification makes it easier to recognise the characters throughout the dozens of scenes in such a complex and long play.
There was a creative use of lighting in the production, the storm scene of Lear and the Fool being most notable, Gerard Adlum delivers a passionate expression of Lear’s anger, as his booming voice and huge shadow loom large amidst strobe lighting and thunderous clashes of sound. Dramsoc used the space afforded them in the Astra Hall creatively, with actors utilising stair aisles.
The actors of Dramsoc all delivered their lines with ease and confidence; impressively, not once was a prompt needed throughout the show. A number of actors deserve to be singled out for their tremendous performances – namely Anna Simpson as The Fool, Gavin Drea as Edmund, Paul Fleming as the Earl of Kent, and of course the magnificent Lear, played by Gerard Adlum. Dramsoc should be commended for their successful undertaking of such a huge, weighty production.