Lear: King LearRead about the other characters on the list.
Hamlet is the young actor’s supreme test, but Lear is the one part to which every leading man aspires. The British stage has seen recent landmark performances from Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, for my money the greatest Lear of his generation. Madness, bloodshed and stage nudity: it’s a physically daunting role, occupying 22% of the script (Hamlet accounts for a massive 37%). In Act III, Scene I, the storm (“Blow winds, and crack your cheeks”) leads to one of the most extraordinary moments of western theatre – a high point in a play rich in astounding scenes. Shakespeare’s vision of humanity is bleak but strangely uplifting
King Lear is among the top twenty works of literature according to the contributors to The Top Ten: Writers Pick their Favourite Books. It appears on Gillian Orr's reading list on fatherhood.