Friday, December 1, 2023


Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Joel Horwood

An Echo Theatre Production

Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 3 December


Reviewed by Len Power 30 November 2023


Shakespeare’s tragedy, “King Lear”, based on a legend, is a story of power, ambition and death in a regal family that begins with Lear, aware of approaching old age, planning to divide the kingdom between her three daughters.

The formidable role of King Lear has been a demanding challenge for many fine actors over the years.  These days gender changes for roles have become more acceptable, giving women the opportunity to play roles traditionally denied to them.  It’s one thing to take on the challenge of the role of the ageing ruler who suffers family betrayal and descends into madness, but it takes a very skilful actor to make a success of it.

From the moment she appears onstage, Canberra’s Karen Vickery as Lear plays a queen with a commanding and convincing strength. The warmth of affection towards her family at the start of the play makes her someone we can identify with and her subsequent descent into madness is more moving because of it.  Vickery’s journey in the role is regal, passionate and frightening in her rage and madness but is ultimately touching.  It’s a memorable performance that must be judged a success.

Karen Vickery and Petronella van Tienen

Director, Joel Horwood, has assembled a fine company of actors who all bring confidence and skill to their roles.

Lear’s three daughters, played by Lainie Hart as Goneril, Natasha Vickery as Regan and Petronella van Tienen as Cordelia, give strong performances as three distinct personalities whose motivations are clear to us, if not to Lear.

Karen Vickery and Lainie Hart

Gloucester is given a sensitive portrayal by Michael Sparks, a man who strives for good but suffers hideously in the process. As his illegitimate son, Edmund, Lewis McDonald achieves a multi-faceted character who is charming but evil and motivated by bitterness. Josh Wiseman as Gloucester’s first-born son, Edgar, is particularly fine in his disguise as the mad Tom o’Bedlam.

Josh Wiseman

There are notable performances by Petronella van Tienen, in the dual role of the Fool, Christina Falsome as Kent, Jim Adamik as Albany and Tom Cullen as Cornwall. The rest of the cast in smaller roles all give fine support.

The production design by Kathleen Kershaw utilizes the full width of the stage. The first half of the show uses curtaining to great effect, especially in the storm sequence and then the plain backdrop for the second half evokes an open country setting. With a sensitive lighting design by Zac Harvey it all comes alive.

Joel Horwood has given us a fine production with in-depth performances of a challenging and demanding play that deserves to be seen.


Photos supplied by the company.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at