This BBC adaptation cuts the play to two hours, adds helicopters and mixed martial arts, and splurge fab performances all over the place
London at night, the capital’s priapic new edifices – the Shard, Gherkin etc – sparkle and thrust proudly skywards, something to do with the lusty stealth of nature perhaps. It looks a bit like the start of The Apprentice but it’s King Lear. “Nothing will come of nothing” … you’re fired.
Just along the river, Gloucester and Kent (Jims Broadbent and Carter) arrive at the Tower in a black Range Rover. The king presumably will land at City airport in a Learjet. He doesn’t. They missed a trick there.
Anyway, he’s already here at the Tower. In Richard Eyre’s TV adaptation, Lear (Anthony Hopkins) is a military dictator in the present, gathering the troops – and the family – for the division of the kingdom.
The north, and its powerhouse presumably, goes to Goneril (Emma Thompson). The West Country to Regan (Emily Watson, this is a seriously sparkly cast). The prosperous south-east is due to be Cordelia’s, until she fails in her filial flattery and is disinherited, disowned and sent to France (boo) instead.