Lear’s Daughters

Aug 11 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Transfixing tragedy

C venues – C nova (Venue 145) 31 July – 16 August

Footfall Theatre Company take Shakespeare’s Lear down into the basement of C Nova and there reveal a new aspect to his story.


Kim Jarvis, Olivia Emden, and Charlotte Quinney. Photo Nick Rutter

Kim Jarvis, Olivia Emden and Charlotte Quinney. Photo Nick Rutter

King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, tells the tale of an ageing man whose need for admiration leads him to a serious misjudgement, which ultimately leads to his humiliation and downfall as he descends into madness.

But this is not his story. This is the story of three of Shakespeare’s most fascinating women; his daughters. Using original text from King Lear, this is the retelling of the tale through their eyes. And it is mesmerising.

Featuring two of the most memorable villains and one of the most virtuous characters in Shakespeare’s works, The Footfall Theatre Company deliver a dark and harrowing account of the sins of the daughters.

While the eponymous man of the show is absent, his presence is not and this production, directed by Isabelle Kettle, is an hour of gripping drama that shows you a different side to his story.

Those that know and love the tale of King Lear will appreciate how it mirrors the original story. The audience is aware of another story playing out somewhere in the background, but the focus is on the domestic heartbreak and tragedy.

another level

In particular, we know of the point in the story where Lear is turned out in a storm, but the focus here is on the painful effect this has on Cordelia. Despite her banishment for not speaking the truth, her enduring love for the man is clear. Olivia Emden certainly does Cordelia’s character justice, she is virtuous and loving, and seems to take the character to another level delivering more defiance and challenge to her sisters than is traditionally seen.

Charlotte Quinney plays Goneril, the ruthless and selfish daughter. She embodies the role, proving to be expressive in her heartlessness and overbearing intimidation. But it is Regan, played by Kim Jarvis, who is the most terrifying and horrific; she is vicious, dark and tormenting as she takes the fools eyes; as though spellbound, it’s a scene that is virtually impossible to divert your eyes from.

The tone is well set by the staging of the production in C Nova’s basement; it is moody, atmospheric and ominous. The production is both beautiful and sad, this is accentuated by the accompanying sultry live a capella singing. As the popular songs fade, the music takes on more poignancy as you begin to notice the familiar Shakespearean text in the music.

This is a very clever production, delivered with an air of grace and emotion. Definitely one to catch if you can.

Running time: 1 hour
C Nova, India Buildings, Victoria Street, EH1 2EX  (Venue 145)
31 July – 16 August 2014
Daily: 15.30
Ticket information: edfringe.com/whats-on/lear-s-daughters


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