Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
The Shadow King, Oct 16. 2013 ***
Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Festival Oct 16 to 27, 2013 Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: *** Full review below. I did not review this production for Herald Sun. KH
Kantor’s reimagining of King Lear depicts a bloody battle for mining royalties
and power, and a violent collision of wills in an indigenous community.
translocation of Shakespeare’s wrenching tragedy from an ancient, white man’s
world to a remote desert setting gives new resonance to the story of Lear (Tom
E. Lewis), an aboriginal elder, who hands over all his land rights, property,
power and wealth to two greedy, cruel daughters but disinherits his youngest
and most loyal.
translates Lear into an old man who trusts the old ways and mistakenly believes
that his older daughters value him more than they do his wealth. This error of
judgment leaves him and his mob (the band) homeless, penniless, disillusioned
and finally delusional as he roams the desert with his Fool (Kamahl Djordon
finds some poignant moments, particularly in Lear’s reunion with his exiled
Cordelia and as he grieves over her body in the final scene. Perhaps his most
moving moments is in a silent filmed scene where his distraught face and naked
chest simply portray Lear’s vulnerability and grief.
this production becomes the villainous Edmund’s play, with Jimi Bani portraying
Gloucester’s illegitimate son with ruthless manipulation and violence as he
ruins his brother’s reputation, seduces Lear’s two grasping daughters then
destroys his mother (Frances Djulibing). Bani’s performance is complex, nuanced
dialogue merges English, indigenous language and creole with snatches of
Shakespeare’s Elizabethan text to create a rich vocal landscape that makes the
indigenous characters vivid.
Arnhem Land locale is captured in projections of hot, red desert sunsets and
colorful footage of remote communities, houses and roving dogs.
Djulibing gives an authentic and touching performance as Edmund’s much-abused
mother, and her blinding at the hands of Lear’s two daughters followed by her
reunion with her disguised son, Edgar in the desert, and her attempted suicide
are rich moments.
Alberts and Natasha Wanganeen are suitably heartless and selfish as Goneril and
Regan and Rarriwuy Hick is as sweetly naive Cordelia. Kamahl Djordon King is
engaging as Lear’s adviser, the Fool, and Damion Hunter is a callow, youthful Edgar.
underscores the story but the strongest sound is the unaccompanied, amplified
voice chanting in pain as Lear’s mind disintegrates and Djulibing’s solo lament
as she faces death.
production has some interesting elements that illuminate the tragic journey of
a deluded old man from ignorance to wisdom, a dysfunctional community that has
lost its way, and its relationship to country when it is infected with white
the tragedy is not fully realised in the production and the trajectory of old Lear’s
mental downfall is not sufficiently emotionally connected to make him the
centre of this modern, indigenous tale of woe.
Michael Kantor & Tom E. Lewis
by Michael Kantor
Design Paul Jackson Michael Kantor David