Some say that if Shakespeare had only ever written this one play that it would still be performed and that we would still remember his name, thankfully though he gave us many more. King Lear is itself based on a Celtic legend that Shakespeare with his incomparable skill breathed new life in to.
When the world weary and old Lear decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters things start to go wrong. His first two daughters know how to impress the king with their words, but alas his third and favourite daughter is more prone to speaking the truth, thus causing her to be disinherited and ultimately banished. Cordelia this youngest daughter has two suitors, the Duke of Burgundy and the King of France, however Burgundy relinquishes any hold that he may have on her due to the fact that she is now dowerless, not so the King of France who becomes more enamoured due to her forthrightness. Kent tries to intervene for Cordelia but finds himself banished.
It does not take long for Lear to realise his mistake when he is being countermanded and in effect ruled by his two elder daughters. Whilst this is going on Gloucester's bastard son has started his machinations to get his legitimate half-brother disinherited. With loyalty, madness and treachery this play will grab you and keep you absorbed, and will stay with you long after the last page has been read. Lear's decline into madness is powerful stuff, and Shakespeare really gets deep into the psyche of his characters, thus revealing the darkness not in just their souls but in all of us.
This is powerful and heady stuff that will have you gripped. With this edition there are extras that will hopefully help you to appreciate this play more, as well as being of help to an actor coming to this for the first time, or for students.