Multi award-winning director Jonathan Miller has joined forces with Northern Broadsides to stage William Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, King Lear. Touring to the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 17th March to Saturday 21st March, Northern Broadsides’ founder and Artistic Director Barrie Rutter leads a fifteen-strong cast as he plays the title role.
King Lear is the story of a family at war with itself. Lear, an ageing and deeply flawed individual, wrecks his relationship with his three daughters and in doing so, loses all he has. What is there left? This question, which is Lear’s predicament and Shakespeare’s genius, invites us all to think upon what we might gain when nothing is all we have.
Sir Jonathan Miller first came to prominence in the revue Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett and is now one of the world’s foremost directors. He famously described King Lear as “The most interesting play Shakespeare ever wrote”. With his keen eye for the subtleties of human behaviour and a sharp focus on the emotional power of the story, be prepared for a Lear stripped back to its heart and soul; intimate, moving and utterly believable. This is the first time Miller has directed King Lear since his 2004 production at New York’s Lincoln Center Theatre featuring Christopher Plummer in the role of Lear. In 2013, he directed Northern Broadsides critically acclaimed production of Rutherford & Son.
Barrie Rutter’s recent works include Northern Broadsides’ award-winning An August Bank Holiday Lark in 2014, and Rutherford & Son, directed by Jonathan Miller, marking their first collaboration. This will be the second time that he has played King Lear, the last time being in 1999 in a production which toured to Bath. Winner of the Shakespeare’s Globe Sam Wanamaker Award for his productions of Shakespeare, his many leading roles also include: Henry IV, Henry V, Coriolanus and The Taming of the Shrew for the Royal Shakespeare Company; Animal Farm, which played Bath in 1985, The Mysteries, The Crucible, Guys and Dolls, and The Oresteia – all for the National Theatre; the title role in Hobson’s Choice and, recently, A Chorus of Disapproval in the West End alongside Rob Brydon. His television credits range from The Royal, Fat Friends, Kavanagh QC and Heartbeat, to Porridge, The Liver Birds and Dixon of Dock Green. He last performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in 2009 in Othello alongside Lenny Henry, in a Broadsides’ production which Rutter also directed.
John Branwell, who plays the role of Gloucester, returns to the Theatre Royal Bath for the fifth time. His previous appearances include A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1995; Improbable Fiction in 2006 and Arrival and Departures in 2007, both with Stephen Joseph Theatre; and Hobson’s Choice in 2007. His television credits include Foyle’s War, Doctors, and Shameless.
Helen Sheals plays the role of Goneril, in this her seventh play for Northern Broadsides. She has previously appeared at the Theatre Royal in The Tempest and Saint Joan in 1985, and The Fifteen Streets in 1989. Her many television credits include playing the role of Mrs Wigan, the postmistress, in Downton Abbey.
Catherine Kinsella appears as Cordelia, after winning the 2014 Best Actress Award for Northern Broadsides’ Rutherford & Son at the Manchester Theatre Awards. Sean Cernow who plays the role of Edmund, is soon to appear in BBC’s The Interceptor and The Hollow Crown (Henry VI Parts 1 & 2 and Richard III,) and ITV’s Foyle’s War. His recent television credits include The Musketeers, Doctors, Hollyoaks and Scott & Bailey.
Fine Time Fontayne, who appears as Fool, was last seen at the Theatre Royal Bath in Othello with Northern Broadsides in 2009. His many television credits include Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Born and Bred, At Home with the Braithwaites and Hetty Wainthrop Investigates.
Best known on television as Joy Ackroyd in the hit ITV series Law and Order UK, Nicola Sanderson plays the role of Regan. She recently performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore as part of Cheek By Jowl’s 2014 international tour.
The cast also features Andrew Vincent as Kent; Andy Cryer (who hails from Portishead) as Cornwall; John Gully as Albany; Jos Vantyler as Oswald; and as Edgar, Jack Wilkinson who last played Bath in Deadkidsongs at the Ustinov Studio in 2012. The company is completed by Josh Moran, Al Bollands and Rikki Hanson-Orr who each play multiple roles.
Jonathan Miller‘s career has covered many different fields: author, lecturer, theatre, opera and film director, humourist, sculptor, medical doctor, television producer and presenter. He is one of the world’s leading directors with myriad credits at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, West End, and internationally. His numerous theatre productions include: The Merchant Of Venice with Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, The Taming Of The Shrew for the RSC, The Seagull at Chichester Festival Theatre, and A Long Day’s Journey Into Night in the West End and on Broadway. As Artistic Director of London’s Old Vic (1988–1990), he directed Andromache with Janet Suzman and The Tempest with Max von Sydow.
For the past twenty-two years, Northern Broadsides has delighted audiences in the UK and abroad with a growing classic repertoire that has won the company many awards and a loyal following worldwide. The company returns to the Theatre Royal Bath after a sell-out visit with Othello starring Lenny Henry and Barrie Rutter in 2009. Northern Broadsides is a unique theatre company with a true northern voice. Its work is characterised by a high degree of theatrical inventiveness and robust performances from a large ensemble cast of multi-talented and charismatic actors who all perform in their natural voices.
King Lear tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Tuesday 17th March to Saturday 21st March. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk