King Lear

Big Finish continues its William Shakespeare adaptations with King Lear, released in November and featuring a star-studded cast.

David Warner plays King Lear, with his daughters being played by Louise Jameson, Lisa Bowerman and Finty Williams.

‘Oh, let me not be mad…’

In an ancient Britain of warring nobles and sibling rivalries, power is a precarious thing. When the ageing King Lear declares that he will divide his kingdom in three to prevent future strife, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will unravel into treachery, horror, conflict and death.

Renowned for its pathos and poetry as much as for its savage violence, Shakespeare’s wildest tragedy remains as thrilling and relevant today as when it was first performed: King Lear is a tale of politics, ambition, greed, vanity, betrayal, love, pride, madness, war and bloody vengeance.

King Lear was written by William Shakespeare, adapted for audio by Nicholas Pegg and directed by Barnaby Edwards. Dr Martin Wiggins from the Shakespeare Institute was a consultant on the production.

David Richardson, producer, told us what to expect from one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated tragedies: “I first discovered King Lear when I studied it for A Level. I became obsessed with it – I had an audio version starring Paul Scofield that I played endlessly, and I learned almost the whole play! It’s one of Shakespeare’s darkest works, centring on the burgeoning collapse (and, in some cases, subsequent discovery) of all reason and humanity.

“It’s going to be an epic production – Barney has assembled a stunning cast, and Howard Carter will be creating the whole tumultuous world in sound design and music. It’s going to be breathtaking.”

Barnaby Edwards, director, shared his thoughts on this one-of-a-kind production for Big Finish: “King Lear is a magnificent, brutal, heartbreaking, elemental masterpiece. In my opinion it jostles Hamlet for the top spot in Shakespeare’s canon. It’s at once domestic (fathers and their offspring, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives) and universal (the abnegation of authority, the toppling of kingdoms, the collapse of order resulting in a descent into chaos). One man – Lear – makes a single, selfish decision which sets in motion a series of events which have catastrophic consequences for his family, his friends and his kingdom. The themes are arrestingly relevant to the world in which we find ourselves today.”

We’re delighted to reveal the full cast list for the production. King Lear is played by David Warner (Titanic, Tron), Goneril is Louise Jameson (Doctor Who, The Omega Factor), Regan is Lisa Bowerman (Doctor Who, Casualty), Cordelia is Finty Williams (Mrs Brown, Cranford), Edmund is Raymond Coulthard (Hotel Babylon, The English Patient), Edgar is Gwilym Lee (Midsomer Murders, Jamestown), The Earl of Kent is Paul Shelley (Secret Army, Polanski’s Macbeth), The Earl of Gloucester is Tony Millan (Citizen Smith, Alexei Sayle’s Stuff), The Duke of Cornwall is Ray Fearon (Harry Potter, Beauty and the Beast), The Duke of Albany is Nicholas Pegg (Doctor Who, Doc Martin), The Fool is Mike Grady (Last of the Summer Wine, Citizen Smith),  Oswald is Trevor Cooper (Star Cops, Wizards vs. Aliens) and The King of France is Barnaby Edwards (Doctor Who, Children of Men).

King Lear is now available for pre-order from the Big Finish website at £14.99 on download or £16.99 on CD for a three-disc CD version