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King Lear


A profound exploration of the human condition and Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. Celebrated film, TV and stage actor David Hayman returns to the Citizens in the title role, 33 years after his last appearance in a Citizens Theatre production. Watch trailer.

“I am a man,
More sinn’d against than sinning”

The ageing King decides to step down from the throne and divide his estate between his three daughters.

Deceived by false promises and rejecting his one faithful daughter, Lear’s former kingdom spirals into chaos as he is driven to madness by the cruel treatment of his own family.


With Artistic Director
Dominic Hill

Thu 10 May, 5.30pm
Ever wondered how a play is put on stage? Fascinating insights into casting, rehearsal, design, lighting and costume.

Wed 2 May, 5.30pm
An informal look at how lighting and sound are used in King Lear and why they are integral parts of every production.

More info

David Hayman as King Lear, in Shakespeare’s greatest play.

Main Theatre

View seating plan

    User Rating

    Rated: (5/5), based on 14 ratings

Previews 20, 21 & 24 Apr
Audio Described 2 May, 7.30pm
Signed 2 May, 7.30pm
Captioned 10 May, 7.30pm
Wheelchair Access
Guide Dogs welcome
Induction Loop


Find out about the four King Lear workshops on offer for secondary students.
More info

Cast and Creative Team >


George Costigan - Gloucester
Tony Cownie - Oswald
Ewan Donald - Edgar
David Hayman - King Lear
Paul Higgins - Kent
Kieran Hill - Edmund
Kathryn Howden - Goneril
Lynn Kennedy - Cordelia
Cal Macaninch - Cornwall
Shauna Macdonald - Regan
Neil McKinven - Albany
Owen Whitelaw - Fool

Plus Ensemble


Dominic Hill - Director
Tom Piper - Designer
Ben Ormerod - Lighting Design
Paddy Cunneen - Music
Richard Lavery – Assistant Director
Renny Krupinski – Fight Director



“The coming together of a great Shakespeare character and an equally great actor is a rare and memorable event. From Laurence Olivier’s Henry V to Mark Rylance’s Hamlet, such performances are the theatre equivalent of a lunar eclipse. One can now add to that Illustrious list, David Hayman’s King Lear”.
Daily Telegraph

“A truly defining portrait of the hapless monarch.”
Daily Telegraph

“It is a superb presentation across the board.”
Daily Telegraph

“A sense of occasion hardly begins to describe the tingling mood of anticipation at the Citizens Theatre.”
The Scotsman

“What’s striking about Dominic Hill’s fine production, though, is the extent to which it allows Hayman to become not a leading actor carrying the play alone, but the central figure in a rich rough-edged and occasionally thrilling ensemble of younger actors.”
The Scotsman

“Some stunning performances, notably from an electrifying Kieran Hill as Gloucester’s bastard son Edmund, and a spine-shiveringly eloquent Paul Higgins as the loyal nobleman Kent. In the end of course, the play belongs to Lear, and Hayman makes a fine visually eloquent job.”
The Scotsman

“There’s a glorious circularity to David Hayman’s return to the Citz after a 20-year absence in Dominic Hill’s mighty production of Lear.”
The Herald

“If watching Hayman in tatty long-johns go demented before a crowd of white-coated doctors is like gazing on the ghost of Citizens past, the final display of people power looks bravely towards the future.”
The Herald

“Hayman’s extraordinary performance reverberates with an unmistakeable emotional and psychological power.”
Sunday Herald

“...every other aspect of this superb staging, from excellent cast to Paddy Cunneen’s disconcerting music and sound, contributes splendidly to a coherent, transfixing and deeply memorable rendering of a great tragedy.”
Sunday Herald

“Dominic Hill’s startling reinvention of one of the Bard’s greatest tragedies has blown a tempest through Shakespeare’s text, extracting every subtext in every word, every emotion in every line and resurrecting ancient issues for a modern audience.”

“His delivery of the tempest scene is shattering, interpreting the frustration and fury of his failing character with power and potency.”


Read audience reactions on Storify


marjorie collins

28th May 2012

this was my first experience of shakespeare .And what an experience .All the cast were superb but David Hayman excelled himself.This Play could be set in a modern day happening as shakespeare could have been writing today about lifes conditions and how a persons life can take a downward turn very easily owing to circumstances/Im looking forward to the next Shakespeare play i go and see

Emma Taylor

7th May 2012

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all involved in the production of king Lear. I attended with my husband last Wednesday evening. I absolutely loved it and I have not been able to stop talking about it since! All the actors gave an amazing performance - they really put there hearts and souls into the acting! I loved the modern setting! David hay was amazing in the role of king Lear! He was really convincing and acted it with such emotion - it was truly believable! Kathryn Holden had some amazing vocal fighting scenes - she was brilliant! I loved shauna McDonald's portrayal of the glamorous woman and her dying scene was fabulous - totally convincing! lynn kennedy was perfect in her role! Owen whitelaw impressed me with his fool acting - fantastic - right down to the walk and toy piano! Edgar came into his own when Edgar went mad! Loved the acting! Tony Cowie was a vary convincing Oswald and funny! The second half was explosive and had me on the edge of my seat! Thanks guys for a fabulous and memorable night out - your obvious efforts were much appreciated! We Will definitely be coming back to see performances from this group again!

N Gillespie

7th May 2012

Attended the show last night - Saturday 6th May. Totally blown away with everyone's performance of king Lear. I was about ready to jump on the stage and hug everyone at the end -:) I wanted the show to go on all night A wonderful production - well done to all!


6th May 2012

Saw King Lear last night. Fantastic performances, especially from David Hayman. Only downside was the heat in the dress circle made it difficult to concentrate on the show. That said, was well worth the trip. Well done to everybody involved.

Roz Davies

5th May 2012

I cannot get the last moments out of my head. Absolutely blown away by last night's performance. The set is amazing, I loved the concept of the musicians on stage. I saw Lear at The Globe a few years ago, and was less than enamoured - this performance was far superior. Loved the Scottish accents, playing on various colloquialisms. The Fool was superb: achingly melancholic. Just fantastic - I've been devastated over the sorrow all day!

Issie macfarlane

4th May 2012

Agree with everything said already, but 'the fool' needs to be mentioned too, fabulous acting. Well done Owen !

Fiona Norris

1st May 2012

We saw 'Lear' on Saturday 28th April -what a production! David Hayman was a stunning Lear, moving from the imperious to the touchingly pathetic with consummate skill. But he was supported by a terrific cast - an excellent Goneril and Regan - although the 'stiletto' scene was almost unbearably horrific - as we would have expected form actors of the calibre of Howden and MacDonald. But for us the surprise of the production was the brilliant Kent - I don't think I've ever come out of a production of Lear before commenting on the excellence of Kent! We also thought the sparse set worked well - the supermarket trolley was a particularly neat touch.On small detail jarred - Lear dragged Cordelia on a the end like a sack of tatties... we would have preferred the more traditional cradling. But overall, a towering achievement -well done to all.


29th April 2012

I saw King Lear last night - it was breath taking. All the cast were great, but George Costigan was a revelation! I came to see David Hayman and he surpassed my expectations. Thanks for a wonderful experience.


27th April 2012

I went to see King Lear last night as part of a school, i throughly enjoyed the play and it helped me understand the characterisation of Lear. There was some scenes in the play that shocked me as a school pupil. Actors were great especially Lear.


26th April 2012

Enjoyed the show a lot - fab set, music brilliant, acting great - but have to agree with James smith about not being able to hear the dialogue sometimes. Four of us were on front row of dress citcle tues night and for half hour + before interval picked up very little - all of us agreed so not just my hearing! Prob only got 75% of dialogue at noisier times / when words being spoken quickly - and Fool difficult to undersand frequently. Hope this helps

Sean Henderson

26th April 2012

David Hayman was Magnificent as Lear. Wonderful show. X


25th April 2012

Half way through the opening night. Thanks to all so far, for their comments on Preview performances. We're looking forward to hearing more responses to the show!


25th April 2012

David Hayman excelllent as Lear - real depth in the performance. Actors playing parts of Edgar and Regan need to watch their diction. George Costigan's performance very moving. Well done Citz!


25th April 2012

Hi there I absolutely loved King Lear. It's as perfect a production as i have ever seen on stage. Fantastic.

James Smith

25th April 2012

The performance was marred by the inability to hear the actors, we were in the dress circle, and unless they were addressing the audience directly a lot of the dialogue was lost even the most memorable lines were being lost. This wasn't helped by the musical overlay which at time drowned out the dialogue altogether. Very disappointing, especially as it was a treat for my friend, who had not been to the theatre for years. This is not a crit of the performance as it is not possible to judge, other than to say that the cast seemed to be enjoying the performance.


21st April 2012

Loved everything about this show. David Hayman was beautiful as Lear. Goneril & Regean were fantastic. The set, music & everything made this a very exciting piece of theatre. Loved it.


16th April 2012

Hi Liam, The show previews from 20 April and opens officially on 25 April and runs until 12 May.

Liam Brown

13th April 2012

Is King Lear on tomorrow night at the Citizens Theatre which is the Saturday 14th of April 2012. Liam

Caroline Paterson

9th April 2012

david Hayman as King Lear a mark of genius !!


14th February 2012

Hi Mary, Yes the cast list was added today. Click on the drop down "Cast and Creative Team" link for the full list of credits.

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SPOILER ALERT: some (not all) key scenes are pictured below.


David started his career at the Citizens with many seminal performances including Hamlet in 1975 and Lady Macbeth in 1979. Well-known as DCS Walker from ITV’s Trial And Retribution, he has been a familiar face on screen for over 30 years including film appearances supporting Pierce Brosnan in The Tailor of Panama, Bruce Willis in The Jackal and Kevin Spacey in Ordinary Decent Criminal. He famously played the part of former Glasgow gangster and Barlinnie convict Jimmy Boyle in the film, A Sense of Freedom. In 1992 he was awarded the City of Glasgow Gold Medal for outstanding services to the performing arts.