Lear’s Daughters. C Nova Venue, by Julia Pascal.


This play was first produced in 1980s London by The Women’s Theatre Group with Elaine Feinstein as the original writer.   In this production it is Cambridge students who explore the latest fractured Shakespeare.  Lear’s Daughters is a four hander set in a tiny basement.  The 1980s feminist theatre encouraged writers  to explore Shakespeare from a radical standpoint.  This daring production, which is set in a kitchen, has an obsessive quality.  It is an exciting take for those who know the original King Lear text.  As we sit on all four sides and observe Lear’s daughters destroy one another, we are exposed to a clever way of suggesting the epic through the domestic.  A jar of Bonne Maman jam on the kitchen table becomes the blood from gouged out eyes.  A domestic carer becomes Lear’s Fool.  This text takes huge liberties with the characters and refreshingly mixes plot and character.  Lear’s presence is suggested by an empty wheelchair.  The show works when you know the original.  For those new to the Shakespeare text, I imagine it is a difficult ride.

Charlotte Quinney is a strong Goneril and Olivia Emden is a highly intelligent, mesmerising Cordelia.  Kim Jarvis’ vocal delivery is rather muffled until the scene where she is enraged by her sister’s betrayal.  Singer Sophie Grant makes a fascinating transition from carer to Lear’s Fool.  However it jarred to hear Grant sing White Christmas before the more organic choice of making blues numbers from Shakespeare’s most famous monologues.   Her Blow Wind And Crack Your Cheeks, as a moody soul song, was inventive and amusing.  I enjoyed director Isabelle Kettle’s creative imagination.

Until 16 August.

Julia Pascal © 2014.