King Lear brings madness to Peel

shakespeare tragedy: Gloucester, blinded by Lear's daughter's Regan, with Lear. The play will be performed in Peel Castle and Rushen Abbey this weekend

shakespeare tragedy: Gloucester, blinded by Lear's daughter's Regan, with Lear. The play will be performed in Peel Castle and Rushen Abbey this weekend

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PEEL Castle and Rushen Abbey will be the atmospheric backdrops for the outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The American Drama Group Europe presents TNT Theatre Britain in the bard’s greatest tragedy, which takes to the stage from tonight (Thursday) to Sunday.

Written in about 1606, the play tells the story of King Lear, the ruler of ancient Britain, who chooses to reject his sacred and kingly responsibilities and offer different parts of his kingdom to his three daughters.

He forces his daughters to compete in a humiliating competition for who can best declare their love for their father. King Lear descends into madness and his decision to divide his kingdom brings tragic consequences for all.

Paul Stebbings, artistic director of TNT Theatre Britain and The American Drama Group Europe, describes King Lear as a ‘masterpiece not just of theatre but of poetry and philosophy, it is a sprawling masterpiece.’

He said: ‘Its central image of a storm is well chosen, the play itself illuminates in flashes broken up by periods of darkness.’

Paul said that while they were not attempting a definitive version, the aim was to ‘reach the heart of the play’. ‘Overall we aim for a radical and accessible interpretation that combines all three performance mediums: drama, dance and music to approach the heart of the play, and through that the human condition,’ he said.

The set is a stone monolith, echoing Stonehenge. Live music will be woven through the production.

King Lear is played by John Moraitis, who has worked in London’s West End and,on TV shows such as The Misfits and Law and Order, as well as on films including Goodfellas.

He has also done extensive voiceover work including numerous plays for BBC Radio 4. John, who was born in New York, last worked with the American Drama Group Europe on a touring production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

The American Drama Group Europe was formed by Grantly Marshall of Ohio, in 1978, in Munich, Germany.

The actors come from New York, London and Paris, where the productions are cast and directed.

TNT Theatre Britain visit the island every summer. Previous productions include Othello and The Taming of the Shrew.

King Lear will be performed at Peel Castle at 7pm tonight (Thursday), Friday and Saturday. It will be staged at Rushen Abbey in Ballasalla at 2.30pm on Sunday.

People are invited to bring along picnic blankets, food and drink.

Tickets cost £20 (children £12) and are available all over the island (House of Manannan and Celtic Gold in Peel, Manx Museum and Peter Norris Music in Douglas, Shakti Man in Ramsey and at Rushen Abbey).

For more information, visit www.manxheritageshop.com

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