Following its overwhelming success at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) and the Aardklop Festival earlier this year, the multi-award winning Koningin Lear, featuring a stellar cast, comes to the Baxter Theatre, for one week only, from 7 to 16 November.
Koningin Lear is an adaption of William Shakespeare's King Lear by one of Belgium's most celebrated living playwrights, Tom Lanoye, with translation by Antjie Krog and direction by Marthinus Basson. “It took two years from concept realisation and discussion, writing and rewriting in Dutch in 2015, for it see the light,” explains Lanoye.
This is the second collaboration between the three creatives - Lanoye, Krog and Basson were also responsible for Mamma Medea in 2001, in their respective roles as writer, translator and director. Renowned South African poet, academic and writer Krog describes Koningin Lear as “a rollercoaster of language and emotion. One gasps for breath at the damage that parents do to their children and the spectacular decay of wealth - all this while rubbing shoulders with Shakespeare in your language.”
Antoinette Kellermann delivers a riveting performance in the title role and she is supported by an outstanding cast comprising André Roothman, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Rolanda Marais, Neels van Jaarsveld, Wilhelm van der Walt, Edwin van der Walt and newcomer Matthew Stuurman.
The production debuted at the KKNK in March and it was commissioned by the festival to commemorate its 25th anniversary where it was awarded eight Kanna-awards and later it also garnered five Aardklop awards. At both festivals it received the Best Production award, while Antoinette Kellermann was honoured as Best Actress, Marthinus Basson as Best Director, Anna-Mart van der Merwe as Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Edwin van der Walt as Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
“I hope people realise just how unbelievably great an actress Antoinette Kellermann is and she now is given the opportunity - like Laurence Olivier to Ian McKellan - to show what Lear is, what it can be,” says Lanoye. He continues, “So, this play is a chance for theatre-lovers to see a great actress and a great director in action. I have worked with so many people internationally and, believe me, you have so much talent.”
Koningin Lear is the story of Elizabeth Lear who, over a period of time, builds her small business into an international empire. She announces that the business will be split between her three sons and she demands that they declare their love and allegiance to her under oath. Her youngest and beloved son refuses, unleashing a massive family dispute. This is a story of an elderly businesswoman who is losing her grip on reality and is desperately trying to cope with the storm that erupted around her. It is an epic story that sharply comments on a contemporary business world in which integrity and loyalty have become scarce commodities.
The production showcases an ensemble of the finest South African actors and creative team who bring this powerful story to the local stage. The media and audiences have raved about the production. Respected arts critic and writer Diane de Beer said, “From start to finish, it is a production that ticks all the boxes. From the content to the language, the design and the staging, the extraordinary choice of cast with Kellermann conquering her most challenging role, it’s theatre to savour - over and over again.”
Award-winning author and journalist Deborah Steinmar feels that words such as "majestic and powerful journey are not even adequate", while Jan-Jan Joubert for Krit described it as "theatre with a capital T" and Laetitia Pople for Netwerk24 said, “Koningin Lear plays like a dramatic thriller, the tension almost unbearable, but it's also shockingly funny."
Koningin Lear, originally developed by the KKNK with support from NATi and staged by the Baxter Theatre Centre for this limited season, will run from 7 to 16 November, at 19:30 nightly with Saturday matinees at 14:00. Booking is through Webtickets, online at www.webtickets.co.za, or at Pick n Pay stores.