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Sam Mendes to direct King Lear at the National

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AS WELL as a revival of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey and Daniel Kitson’s Analog.Ue, the National Theatre’s new productions include King Lear, with Sam Mendes directing Simon Russell Beale in the title role.

King Lear runs in the Olivier Theatre from January 23 (previews from January 14) to March 25, 2014, with further performances to be announced.

An aged king decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters, according to which of them is most eloquent in praising him. His favourite, Cordelia, says nothing.

Simon Russell Beale’s recent work for the National Theatre includes Timon of Athens (Critics’ Circle Award: Best Shakespearean Performance), Collaborators (Evening Standard Award: Best Actor), London Assurance, Major Barbara, Much Ado About Nothing, The Alchemist and The Life of Galileo.

Elsewhere, his theatre credits include The Hothouse and Privates on Parade (West End), The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard (New York and Old Vic) and Bluebird (New York). His screen credits include My Week with Marilyn and The Deep Blue Sea (film); Spooks, Falstaff in the BBC film of Henry IV, and presenting the series Sacred Music and Symphony (TV).

Sam Mendes has previously directed The Sea, The Birthday Party, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Othello for the National Theatre. For ten years he was Director of the Donmar Warehouse, where his productions included Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night. In 2009, he founded the Bridge Project, a transatlantic classical theatre company, and directed The Winter’s Tale, The Cherry Orchard, The Tempest, As You Like It and Richard III. His production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently booking at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until November 1, 2014.

His films include American Beauty (Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture) and the BAFTA and Academy Award-winning Skyfall.

The cast of King Lear also includes Stephen Boxer (as Gloucester), Cassie Bradley, Tom Brooke (Edgar), Richard Clothier, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Kate Fleetwood (Goneril), Simon Manyonda, Anna Maxwell Martin (Regan), Daniel Millar, Michael Nardone, Gary Powell, Adrian Scarborough (Fool), Hannah Stokely, Stanley Townsend (Kent), Sam Troughton (Edmund), Olivia Vinall (Cordelia) and Ross Waiton.

The production will be designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Paul Pyant, video design by Jon Driscoll, fight direction by Terry King and sound design by Paul Arditti.