Gresham’s have been performing at the Fringe for many years and have a history of approaching traditional works in a new way. This is no exception; who else would consider turning one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies into a pantomime?

Much of the basic story is retained. As in the play, King Lear is old and tired and wishes to retire and split up his kingdom among his three daughters. However, in a minor departure from the original plot, this is to be decided by an X-Factor style singing contest!

Every pantomime needs a villain and this is provided by Edmund, son of the Duke of Gloucester. From the moment he appears, wearing a cloak and with a thoroughly evil laugh, the audience immediately recognises him as ‘the bad guy’ and is encouraged to boo and hiss him at every opportunity.

Probably the most bloodthirsty and violent scene in the play, the plucking out of Gloucester’s eyeballs, is retained and even expanded, but in a very humorous way. Instead of using his fingers Cornwall uses a wide variety of inappropriate household implements. However, as it’s a pantomime, nobody dies and at the end Gloucester’s sight is restored so all live happily ever after.

In true pantomime tradition, many of the jokes in this production lead to groans rather than laughs but the enthusiasm and energy of the cast is infectious, leading even the most cynical members of the audience to boo, hiss, clap along and shout ‘he’s behind you’. Great fun.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

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The Blurb

Gresham's returns for its 14th consecutive Fringe. Complete with ugly sisters, panto villain and a bit of 'X Factor'! Why can't a tragedy be a laugh? 'Worth getting out of bed for' - **** (ThreeWeeks).

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