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All of the elements in place for a good night out

Review by Paul Nelson

FOR the student of theatre, and I do not mean this in any derogatory way, you will not do better than go to see Lear's Daughters, at Oval House.

The play is a work of many hands, and as such it goes in several diverse directions, some of which are welcome and exciting, some of which irritate.

What the evening does in a very exciting way is present an opportunity for the imaginative actor to shine.

I can only say to you that five actors, the three daughters of King Lear, the Fool and a Nurse/Nanny, grasp this opportunity with tremendous energy and, in spite of the shortcomings of the piece, shatter the peace of the audience.

Don't come to Oval House expecting to browse or snooze. From the moment the three truly beautiful daughters of Lear, initially delicately dressed like Tenniel's pictures of the original Alice, of Wonderland fame, are revealed, the Fool takes over the audience with the usual modern pantomime jargon, and then this play captivates you.

The three daughters, I suspect, are three of the four elements - earth, water and air.

Air is the sound of the word, Cordelia, earth is represented with solid shapes, the constant shaping of the tangible since Regan is a sculptor, and water, the watercolours used by Goneril the artist.

I may be totally doolally about this, but that is how it struck me and my companion.

And even if I am wrong, on that basis the play works.

The final element is fire, and you have two choices. Is it the Fool or the Nurse? Both present enough fire to ignite the whole of London.

I suppose that encapsulates the success of the evening. The sheer energy and excitement bashed into the auditorium by the cast, led by these two, is ultimately stunning.

The play, while being serious, has its dark and its stark moments, yet is also extremely amusing.

It is presented in a great setting with delightful costumes.

It has a soundtrack which sounds as if it being played on a child's nursery xylophone, out of tune and jarring, with barely recognisable tunes, but you can connect with such as Tchaichovsky's The Sugarplum Fairy, the traditional, Here Comes The Bride, and Disney's When You Wish Upon A Star.

Make what you will of these choices, what I make of them is a connection with my three aforementioned elements. It is a fascinating evening.
The setting is absolutely sans pareil, the costumes brilliant, and, apart from the television set's slight hitch of picture roll (don't you remember it from the Sixties?), the presentation exact.

Do go, if only for the sheer joy of watching five actresses turn the theatre upside down and the audience inside out. It's a good night.

Lear's Daughters by The Women's Theatre Group and Elaine Feinstein, Directed by David K.S.Tse, Set and Costume Designer Sigyn Stenqvist, Lighting Designer Douglas Kuhrt, Video Artist Kazuko Kohki, Composer Matthew Bugg, Choreographer Fong Loh. WITH: Antonia Kemi Coker (Fool), Liz Sutherland (Nurse), Bronwyn Mei Lim (Regan), Liana Gould (Goneril), Josephine Welcome (Nurse & Nanny) Presented by Yellow Earth Theatre at Oval House, Kennington Oval, London. Tickets 7582 7680.

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