King Lear takes to the stage at Newby Hall

Recognise him? It's Joseph Marcell, aka Geoffrey the butler from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, playing King Lear
Recognise him? It's Joseph Marcell, aka Geoffrey the butler from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, playing King Lear
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Newby Hall and Gardens will welcome back the Globe Theatre’s Touring Company this week with one of Shakespeare’s most tragic plays – King Lear.

The annual award-winning small-scale open air Globe performances are marked as a highlight of Newby’s summer season, with Comedy of Errors and Hamlet playing to large crowds in recent years.

On Wednesday and Thursday, July 10 and 11, a company of eight actors will take to a Elizabethan-style booth stage – inspired by paintings from Shakespeare’s age – with Joseph Marcell, known to millions as Geoffrey, the Oxford-educated butler in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, taking on the role of the old King Lear.

Marcell last graced the Globe’s stage in the 2011 production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Directed by Bill Buckhurst, King Lear will also feature the New Zealand stage and screen actor Rawiri Paratene, star of the critically-acclaimed film Whale Rider, with all cast members other than Marcell taking on at least two roles.

Buckhurst is also well-known at Shakespeare’s Globe, where he has previously directed Hamlet with Dominic Dromgoole and played Antipholus in The Comedy of Errors.

In Globe Education’s annual Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank series, he has played Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (2007 and 2008) and has directed Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The play follows King Lear as he proposes to give up his crown and divide his kingdom between his three daughters – but his rash generosity is cruelly repaid. Lear discovers too late the falsity of the values by which he has lived, and is ultimately plunged into despair and madness.

Its tempestuous poetry shot through with moments of humour and heart-rending simplicity, King Lear is a profound exploration of the human condition in all its extremes and complexity.

l Tickets are £17.50 and £12.50, with discounts for Newby season ticket holders. Contact the box office on 01423 322583 and select option 3 or visit www.newbyhall.com