King Lear Act IV, Scene 6

Actors' Theatre Columbus '07 outdoor production of KING LEAR. Features artistic director John Kuhn as Lear and John Tener as Gloucester. Production directed by Mark Mann. This scene constitutes the real climax of the play, not Lear’s raging in the storm scenes, but his acceptance of the truths he begins to discover at quieter moments during them. The blinded Gloucester was in a suicidal mood after discovering his son Edgar’s innocence of the charges by his half-brother, the illegitimate Edmund. However, Edgar successfully cures Gloucester by the grotesque shock therapy of a supposedly miraculous rescue after thinking he has thrown himself over Dover Cliff. On the beach Gloucester encounters the king and the two chastened old men exchange rueful remarks about their newly understood lives. Many actors think that Lear is still mad, but even in the storm he was really mostly mad with rage, and Sebastian Shaw of the RSC has plausibly played every line of Lear in this scene as simple truth. So Lear goes from mad rage at the start of the play to basically sane realism here. He knows who Gloucester is and that he has been guilty of adultery with the birth of his wicked son Edmund. Lear’s last words result from discovering he has been secretly surrounded by troops whom he thinks threaten him.

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