“King Lear” is one of Shakespeare’s crowning achievements, a legendary play. Its plot has been the subject of numerous interpretations, often diametrically opposed to each other, but in accord in one respect: Shakespeare’s vision is one of the most profound and, at the same time, most pessimistic studies of human nature. In order to take on this text, the director has to have at his/her disposal not only professional abilities and knowledge of drama but also human experience, because only this allows the director to penetrate the motivations and behaviours of the figures.
The challenge of staging this masterpiece – both for the individual director and for the combined forces of the two theatrical companies – has been undertaken by Anna Augustynowicz, an acclaimed and talented director, for whom the dramaturgy of Shakespeare is, next to new contemporary texts, the most important material for stage work. The main role, created by artists of the greatest calibre (including, in Poland, Gustaw Holoubek, Jerzy Trela, Andrzej Seweryn, Daniel Olbrychski, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz), is played by Mirosław Zbrojewicz. The rest of the cast consists of women, which is both a perverse reversal of Elizabethan tradition but also a game with stereotypes of “masculine” patriarchal culture, of which “King Lear” is an undoubted embodiment and whose downfall we observe today.
This Shakespearean classic has been unravelled by Augustynowicz into threads which run alongside each other, sometimes crossing each other or becoming entangled, but not wishing to arrange themselves into an exalted or at least a moving tragedy. Augustynowicz deprives Lear’s apocalypse of all justifications and sense-making, including emotional and affective ones, revealing the utterly cruel tragi-comedy of this theatrical end of the world. Dariusz Kosiński, “Tygodnik Powszechny”
(…) #kinglear is dense and often remains puzzling. On the one hand, it reveals the mechanisms of the struggle for power and highlights the gloomy vision of the world; on the other hand, it is saturated with references to various religious imaginings, not making the task easier for the audience, whose members might sometimes feel disorientated. But maybe it is good that they leave the performance with emotions and that in them doubts, questions or even grievances are swirling around? Maybe it is a waste of time for something quite simply well served? Jan Karow, Instagram/Powitanie z tytułem