(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in the Financial Times, 7/17.)

Avignon Festival loves a controversy, and its director Olivier Py certainly provided one this summer. In his second year at the helm, Py chose to claim the most prestigious spot in the line-up for himself: his new production of King Lear opened proceedings in the courtyard of the Popes’ Palace and was promptly slammed as a disastrous failure.

This Lear doesn’t quite deserve such universal contempt, though it undermines the play from the start. Cordelia is played by a silent ballet dancer who performs arabesques and tapes her mouth when asked to speak, while the traitor Edmond roars in on a motorbike.


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