The South Bank Show Profiles Simon Russell Beale in King Lear

This week sees Melvyn profiles the recent sell-out run of the National’s King Lear, which was directed by Sam Mendes (Sky fall) and starred acclaimed theatre actor Simon Russell Beale (who can be currently seen in Sky Atlantic’s Penny Dreadful).

It explores their staging of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Alongside footage of the production filmed during a recent National Theatre Live performance, two-time Olivier Award-winner Beale discusses how he approached the role of Lear, considered by many as ‘the Everest’ every Shakespearean actor must surmount in order to achieve greatness. Beale explores the play’s themes, which include madness, godlessness and homelessness and tells Bragg how he used modern research to interpret the form of dementia from which many believe Shakespeare’s Lear may have suffered.

As well as hearing insight from leading Shakespeare scholars Professor Jonathan Bate and Professor Katherine Duncan- Jones, The South Bank Show 2014 also catch up with Mendes. The Skyfall director talks about his partnership with Beale, considered one of the greatest Shakespearean actor/ director collaborations of our time. He also discusses his approach to The Bard’s script and why he chose to set his production in a modern totalitarian state.