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King Lear

Comments on Act 3 Scene 7

In the legendary 1962 Royal Shakespeare Company production by Peter Brook, the director chose to emphasize the moral decay and cruelty of the times by omitting this final sympathetic act between the servants (which is in fact cut in the Folio). Instead of receiving help, the blinded Gloucester was pushed aside by the servants and had to feel his way offstage, even as the intermission lights came up in the auditorium. Brook wanted to disrupt the usual, automatic response of applause before the break to make the audience take stock of the disturbing horror they had just witnessed. However, to his disappointment most audiences chose to applaud anyway (Leggatt 45).

In a 1982 RSC production Regan pulled a long pin from her hair and handed it to Cornwall to blind Gloucester.

In Olivier’s Lear, Diana Rigg as Regan reveals her erotic interest in Edmund in this scene by kissing him when he exits, which Cornwall notices, then turning to her husband with a defiant smile.

In many productions Regan refuses to help her wounded husband; in Olivier’s film Diana Rigg watches him coldly as he collapses. In contrast, Peter Brook, attempting to make the “evil” characters more human, had Regan help Cornwall offstage.

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