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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


mary magowan

15th February 2012

Have the daughters been cast in this production yet?


25th January 2012

Some of the most amazing moments I have ever spent in a theatre were at the Citizens in the 60s and 70s - and some of the best of those were watching David Hayman. Wild horses wouldn't keep me away! Good to see that he doesn't seem to have aged a day - same as me!

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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.