Transposed to Australia, this production presents Lear as the leader of an Indigenous community in an immensely powerful and irresistibly charismatic performance by Tom E Lewis. Rather than a peaceful retirement surrounded by a loving family, his becomes a spectacular fall with consequences coming at a fast and furious pace.
The dynamic set design is ingenious and a live onstage band underscores the action. The land is an ever-present character, dominating the stage with spectacular widescreen video projections taking the audience from the suburbs to insanely wild landscapes and breath-taking skies that dwarf the tragic players. The total effect is haunting, leaving an indelible impression.
Tom E Lewis played the title role in the 1978 Fred Schepsi film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and his documentary Yellow Fella was the first Australian Indigenous documentary to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival. The Shadow King won Michael Kantor 'Best Director' at Australia's prestigious Helpmann Awards.
'one of the best free adaptations of a play I have ever seen... even half a world away it is a creation of both beauty and profundity' ★★★★ Financial Times
1 hour 35 mins/no interval
Age guidance 12+
Performed in Modern English and Kriol languages
30 Jun Post-show talk Free to same-day ticket holders
Cultural protocols have been followed throughout the production of The Shadow King. Authorisation of cultural objects and permission of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander story, language and song has come from the cast of The Shadow King. The Shadow King cast and crew thank their Elders for guiding and advising correct public displaying of their culture and identity in The Shadow King.
This project has been assisted by Creative Victoria and the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals – Melbourne Festival, Sydney Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Adelaide Festival and Brisbane Festival.