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Liz reviews Theatre in the Forest's production of King Lear

By Liz, also posted in News on

Red Rose Chain Theatre in the ForestAs soon as you arrive at Rendlesham Forest to watch Red Rose Chain’s 2012 production of King Lear you know this will be a performance of Shakespeare like no other. The ever energetic cast are on hand and in costume to personally greet you and direct you to the car park. Scattered around the woods are families enjoying picnics from wicker hampers whilst waiting for the action to begin. As more guests begin to arrive you can take your seat around the stage – which feels more like gathering round a campfire - there is no curtain, stalls or seat numbers for this performance – just wood-chip flooring and an array of rugs and deckchairs that guests have brought themselves. The trees form the scenery along with some simple and vibrant props, but the exposure to the elements is most appropriate for the subject matter of King Lear. For this is one of Shakespeare’s darker tragedies with very modern concerns of family loyalty and greed coupled with dealing with the impact of ageing on mental health. As always, Red Rose Chain manage to inject comedy where appropriate and ensure that the audience’s attention is held through use of physical theatre and audience participation. The opening scenes set the tone with a fantastic entrance of Lear on his own very special mode of transport and a musical interpretation of the daughters competitive declaration of love which still has me chuckling days later. By contrast they also manage to beautifully convey the madness of Lear in the wilderness through his puppet fool who has a particularly sinister and well lit soliloquy. As night falls in the forest the play reaches its conclusion and the small but very dynamic cast get a well deserved ovation. To complete the experience guests can enjoy picnics, drinks and snacks from the huts around the forest and leave having experienced a truly special evening. Top tips; bring a rug to snuggle up in and some insect repellent. You can buy tickets and find out more here.