Synopsis: King Lear, ruler of Britain, is set to stand down and
abdicate his kingdom and divide it amongst his three daughters, but only after
a test. The test is a test of love, and he asks his daughters just how
much they love him. The two eldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, both flatter
their father with flowery language, but Cordelia, remains quiet. Cordelia
then leaves to live with the King of France, who wants to be with her
regardless of land.
As Lear realizes the banishment of
Cordelia and giving the land to Goneril and Regan was the wrong decision, the
latter daughters start to erode Lear’s remaining power, and
he goes insane. Lear flees during a thunderous storm with his fool and
the nobleman Kent in disguise. Edmund, the illegitimate son of Gloucester, an
older nobleman, tricks his fake father into believing that Gloucester’s real son is trying to kill his father.
Edgar flees and hides as a beggar named Poor Tom.
Gloucester sets out to help Lear, but
Regan and her now husband Cornwall, accuse him of treason. They blind him
and leave him to wander the heath, where Poor Tom helps him along to
Dover. Now in Dover, Cordelia is leading
her French Army to save her father Lear. Edmund seduces Goneril and
conspires to assassinate her husband, Albany, who is beginning to understand
As Gloucester contemplates suicide, his
son Edgar saves his life on an imaginary cliff. Edmund leads the English
army onto the cliffs of Dover, and they defeat and capture Cordelia.
Edmund and Edgar fight to the death.
Edmund dies, as Edgar learns of the death of Gloucester. Regan is poisoned by Goneril who then reveals
her conspiracy to Albany and kills herself. Cordelia is then executed in
prison, which destroys Lear, who dies of a broken heart. The remaining
Albany, Edgar, and Kent, in deep sadness, take over rule of the country.
The Argument: What unites us in this existence is a Celebration of Life, Grief, and Death. How can you prepare the ones you love for when they lose you? A powerful royal family’s reign and legacy is thrown into chaos as power and greed poison and lead them to a legacy lost. The dream of a circle of life is presented at the beginning of the play, with Lear wanting someone to continue his legacy. In the end past faults are forgiven and family is reunited. Reconciliation is where this tragic tale ends, with the survivors left to pick up the pieces, to somehow start a new beginning and carry on the kingdom.