Reviewer Number 9 – Anthony Burgess Foundation Reviewer Richard Gorick
While condensing a three-hour tragedy with 27 characters into an hour long one man show may seem to be an impossibility, Writer-Director Frank Bramwell and performer Bob Young prove themselves to be more than up the task with this enlightening take on Shakespeare’s classic. The decision to stage the piece with a solo performer isn’t merely the result of a desire to impress with virtuoso acting but is key to the play’s emphasis of Lear’s loneliness and estrangement from his family. King Lear is not only alone on stage but also in every sense of the word ‘alone’..
She Wolf Manchester – Anthony Burgess Foundation Reviewer Hannah Kate
…….a play of this type lives or dies by the standard of the performance. Fortunately, things were in very safe hands here. Bob Young plays Lear excellently, fully embodying Bramwell’s pitiful, yet not quite resigned, king. Young’s Lear begins as a broken and confused man, but over the course of the performance moves back and forth as the quixotic moods of the character demand. Young offers a (slightly unhinged) joviality in his delivery of lines from early in Shakespeare’s play, a deep melancholy in his depiction of Lear’s lonely state, and full-blown Shakespearean wrath in his condemnation of those who have abandoned him – without going over-the-top and losing the audience’s engagement with the character.
For me, this engagement was one of the most surprising things about the production. I will admit to never being a huge King Lear fan (though I’m pretty familiar with the play), due to the distinct lack of sympathy I’ve always had with the central character. In King Lear (alone), however, we are invited ‘in’ and asked to consider things more directly from Lear’s perspective. While my anger and annoyance at Lear hasn’t entirely gone away – Bramwell’s script and Young’s performance don’t entirely dispel the notion that Lear brings much of his suffering on himself – there is way more scope to pity, sympathize and (most surprisingly) forgive Lear for his erratic excesses.
North West End – Anthony Burgess Foundation Reviewer Rob Spence
At The Burgess Foundation, Bob Young brought Frank Bramwell’s reworking of the play to life in an impressive performance. Young has been touring this production for four years now, and he lives the part, inhabiting with impressive conviction the mind of the proud yet “foolish fond old man.” This version of Lear is an intense, hour-long examination of the central character’s psyche, as he reflects, sometimes with bitterness, sometimes with confusion, and sometimes with delicate tenderness, on his life.
Camden Fringe – Burdell’s Yard Reviewer Karolina Latk
A magnificent, strong piece of high art playing nicely with Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is a great example of simultaneously reviewing what’s known and creating something new, where the old characters get more and more added to their personalities. Written by Frank Bramwell, this play surprises us with the depth of the protagonist’s psyche, which is flawlessly shown by Bob Young’s one-of-its-kind acting. These two are the stage’s perfect match, making King Lear (alone) a powerful voice on the subject of humanity and the worth of truth and words. This play becomes an additional moment in Lear’s life just before its end, which naturally makes him and us question the history of the original play….
Although the way the play is written makes it easy to understand for any audience (even if you’ve never read or seen King Lear before it is still for you!), theatre and Shakespeare lovers will find even more pleasure in it as Bramwell has for us many surprises and references. Both ways, however, it is a cultural must-see. Hopefully, we’ll get more chances to see the collaboration of Young and Bramwell.