King Lear

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


What Mr. William gave us was Shakespeare unpolluted, undiluted, undistorted, and unabashed. His production represented a straightforward reading of the text, an acceptance of the characters and the relationships that are evident in the original, and a willingness to leave the play’s mystery for the audience to ponder. He did not shirk the difficulties in the work, but faced up to them by the simple and admirably courageous method of leaving them alone… No textbook psychology was introduced in an effort to explain why these people were as they were and did as they did. Nor was there any attempt to attach a meaning to the play, or to attach the play to a meaning… As a result the play came through in all its power and variety, its ironies undimmed and its ambiguities intact… I do not wish to give the impression that this was the definitive presentation of King Lear, even if such an achievement could be imagined. There were weaknesses within the production. Edmund, as played by Daniel Davis, seemed overly earnest and solemn, lacking the sardonic humor and alacrity of spirit that ought to enliven the part. It was difficult to believe that he was what he was. Elizabeth Shepherd’s Cordelia was too aggressive, and seemed somewhat self-conscious in her role of the good daughter … Miss Shepherd is an actress of great beauty and poise, and has clarity of voice, but her Cordelia, unfortunately, took on some of the inappropriate qualities of a Wagnerian heroine. (Berners W Jackson, Shakespeare Quarterly 23 [1972]: 388–94)


Festival Director Young Company Sunday Night Young Actor Textbook Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

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