King Lear (West End)
Closed 2h 0m
King Lear (West End)

King Lear (West End) London Reviews and Tickets

(26 Ratings)
Members say
Ambitious, Great staging, Confusing, Great acting, Clever

About the Show

Sir Kenneth Branagh directs & stars in this new production of Shakespeare's tragedy.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (26)

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516 Reviews | 129 Followers
Masterful, Exceptional acting, Dreary set

See it if you need to witness Branagh's take on Lear, a wonderfully crisp and illuminating portrayal, along with a terrific cast of charismatic actors

Don't see it if you're looking for completely new or insightful interpretive take on the play. Also set is dreadfully boring and costumes are plain bizarre. Read more

91 Reviews | 5 Followers
Dated, Great acting

See it if You like Shakespeare; want to a good bunch of actors at work; enjoy minimal staging.

Don't see it if Shakespearean English is a challenge for you; are expecting an epic production; can't endure long plays without a break.

58 Reviews | 5 Followers
Absorbing, Great world-building, Great staging, Clever, Ambitious

See it if you want to see powerful and absorbing staging and amazing effects (a sky with stars and a storm directly overhead); stand-out ensemble

Don't see it if you're impatient - it starts off slowly and strangely over-enunciated - but stick with it as the pace ramps up; you don't like Jacobean gore Read more

85 Reviews | 7 Followers
Refreshing, Great staging

See it if Shakespeare means something to you. If you are academic, there are some juicy elements wait for you too.

Don't see it if you just want to see the famous Kenneth Branagh. It’s not a star-show. What you’ll see is non stop 2hours tragedy on a hard seat. Read more

132 Reviews | 20 Followers
Edgy, Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing

See it if you're a fan of Kenneth Branaugh. He's the best thing about this play, but he's missing for huge parts of the second half.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or don't want to see a shortened King Lear.

54 Reviews | 3 Followers
Indulgent, Edgy, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a great actor take on the ultimate Shakespearian role & don't mind a bunch of kids straight out of school support him poorly

Don't see it if you don't like unnecessary adjustments to the timing of a play that do not bring anything to it and just confuse Read more

67 Reviews | 2 Followers
Ambitious, Refreshing, Confusing, Slow, Great staging

See it if you'd enjoy a Shakespearean classic reenacted on an exquisite set, with a young ensemble cast supporting acclaimed actor Kenneth Branagh.

Don't see it if you don't easily understand archaic English, or prefer more dynamic movements in the show - there is a fair amount of pure dialogue.

59 Reviews | 3 Followers
Indulgent, Disappointing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You want to see Kenneth Branagh.

Don't see it if You like King Lear or can’t sit for 2 hours without an interval. Read more

Critic Reviews (14)

November 1st, 2023

“Branagh’s vision is undeniably there, but the execution lacks directorial precision. Nobody doubts his capability as a performer or as a director. But doing both at the same time does the cast no favours.”
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The London Evening Standard
November 1st, 2023

"Peel away the brutal pruning of the text, and casting that is blind to age, ethnicity and gender, and this is a solidly old-fashioned staging. The verse-speaking is overly enunciated and emphatic"
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Time Out London
October 31st, 2023

“It’s fine when Branagh is there to do the heavy lifting. But ‘Lear’ himself becomes less of a presence later on, and the show sags when its star is off stage. At two hours it’s by far the quickest ‘Lear’ I’ve ever seen, but it’s not radically abridged so much as briskly staged – there is still of a lot of Lear-free subplot to be negotiated in the second half.”
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The Guardian (UK)
October 31st, 2023

“As a production it is packed with action and deft in its fight scenes, but remains rather flat, and perhaps unwilling to plumb this play’s tragic depths.”
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The Times (UK)
November 1st, 2023

“The star can still seize us by the throat. The moment when, stripped to little more than a loincloth, he totters on the edge of the spiritual abyss gives us a glimpse of a broken soul. A disjointed evening begins to generate an authentic sense of the tragic.”
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October 31st, 2023

“The mainly young and inexperienced cast surrounding Branagh are left beached by the approach. Their characters and lines are cut, and they race through their speeches, skating gamely along the surface but never penetrating the depths beneath.”
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The Stage (UK)
November 1st, 2023

"Confused in concept and clumsy in execution, it manages to be at once overblown and insubstantial. It is crammed with florid gesture and self-conscious declaiming, and offers scarcely a single moment of emotional truth. "
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The Independent (UK)
November 1st, 2023

“This ‘King Lear’ feels like a curio, one that starts to imagine a different kind of way of presenting this time-honoured story of ageing and decline, without quite offering a complete reading. It feels like a first draft, polished to spearhead visual brightness, but not sharpened to a point.”
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