Michael Pennington stars in Royal & Derngate’s King Lear

King Lear

Michael Pennington is set to play one of Shakespeare’s greatest roles, King Lear, in a new production from Northampton’s Royal & Derngate, directed by Max Webster, that will then tour to nine ATG theatres this spring.

In Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, an ageing tyrant’s decision to divide his kingdom, tears his family apart, sparks a catastrophic civil war and destroys all that he has.

Driven from his home, Lear endures madness and suffering as he battles a great storm. Yet with madness he finds reason, after betrayal he discovers loyalty and through his suffering a better world emerges.

This new production of King Lear is directed by Max Webster, associate director at the Old Vic. His recent credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe and To Kill a Mocking Bird at Manchester’s Royal Exchange.

max webster
Max Webster

Two-time Olivier Award nominee Michael Pennington has played a number of roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a career spanning over 50 years. He was also co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company.

Recent notable performances have been as Edgar in Strindberg’s The Dance of Death at the Gate Theatre, John of Gaunt in Richard II (RSC) and as Anthony Blunt in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.

He played the role of Lear to critical acclaim at the Shakespeare Center New York in 2014. This new production will see the actor play the role in the UK for the first time.

Pennington is joined by a distinguished cast of 13 actors. Playing the role of his daughter Cordelia is Beth Cooke (King Lear, Abbey Theatre, Dublin; Much Ado About Nothing, Old Vic). Catherine Bailey (Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice for The Globe; The 39 Steps, West End) plays Goneril and Sally Scott (King Charles III, West End) is Regan. Pip Donaghy plays Gloucester.

Other cast members include Shane Attwooll, Reginald Edwards, Joshua Elliott, Gavin Fowler, Caleb Frederick, Adrian Irvine, Scott Karim, Tom McGovern and Daniel O’Keefe.

Director Max Webster said: “In the year that marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it’s thrilling to be directing one of his greatest tragedies, and to be working with Michael who is one of the most respected Shakespearean actors of our time.

“I look forward to our talented cast bringing a gripping new interpretation to audiences across the UK.”

King Lear takes to the Royal stage from April 1-23.

2016 Tour Dates

April 25-30, Oxford Playhouse
May 3-7, Theatre Royal Brighton
May 9-14, Richmond Theatre
May 23-28, Grand Opera House York
May 31-June 4, Manchester Opera House
June 6-11, Theatre Royal Bath
June 13-18, The Hall for Cornwall Truro
June 20-25, Cambridge Arts Theatre
June 27-July 2, Malvern Theatre

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