Year: 1974

Title of the play: King Lear

Author: William Shakespeare

Director: David William

Others in the Cast: John Woodvine, Ronald Radd, Matthew Long, Ian McKellen, Robert Eddison, Caroline Blakiston, Sharon Duce, Sheila Reid, Robin Ellis, Juan Moreno, John Tordoff, John Bennett, Tenniel Evans, Peter Holt, Margery Mason

Company/Event: The Actors’ Company

Theatre and location: Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York

Other productions of the same play: Wimbledon Theatre; Theatre Royal, Newcastleupon-Tyne; New Theatre, Oxford; Theatre Royal, Norwich. Movie in 1983, starring Laurence Olivier.

Plot summary: Lear decides to divide his realm among his three daughters, and offers the largest share to the one who loves him best. Goneril and Regan both proclaim their love, but Cordelia speaks temperately, which annoys him. He disinherits her, and divides the kingdom between the other two. Despite this, the King of France marries Cordelia. Lear announces he will live alternately with Goneril and Regan, and their husbands, the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall. But Lear discovers that his daughters no longer respect him. Enraged, he rushes out into the storm. Kent leads Lear to the French army. The armies meet in battle, the British defeat the French, and Lear and Cordelia are captured.

Peth’s role: Lear’s Fool, France in the 1983 movie


The costumes and scenery for the Actors Company's entry on February 2, King Learm dorected by David William were lost in transit from London, so audiences and critics on opening night viewed the production on a bare stage with the actors in jeans and T-shirts. The company's superior talent was evident all the same, and the reviews were auspicious.  - American theatre: a chronicle of comedy and drama, 1969-2000, By Thomas S. Hischak, Gerald Martin 

Robert Eddison was a magnificently arrogant and pathetic old king, Edward Petherbridge a definitive Fool. I was Edgar, another Shakespearean who goes on an heroic journey to maturity and self-awareness. In preparing my disguise as Mad Tom, I flung off all my clothes and stood briefly onstage as the bare fork'd man. This was a simple image to counterpoint the impenetrable obscurity of Edgar's language - and didn't often get a snigger. Otherwise, nothing remarkable; although we went to USA." — Ian McKellen from the programme for Acting Shakespeare

"The stage is bare, the surrounding curtains black and unrelenting, the costumes simply cream and white. The Prospect Theatre Company's Lear cuts its emphasis right down to the text and the actors." Michael White, Guardian 8.6.72

Production details: Here 

Related links:


A sculpture by Peth titled King Lear and the Fool in the Storm:

Screenshots from the 1983 movie


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