top of page
  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA



REVIEW By Seamus Kelly

HER Productions, Unseemly Women & Girl Gang Manchester - 8th June 2023 - Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

“Lear” is a new production of the Shakespeare tragedy “King Lear” from HER Productions, Unseemly Women and Girl Gang Manchester currently running at the Hope Mill Theatre until 18th June.

The production features an all-female, or non-binary, cast and uses a simple set and modern dress, and a little modern music. HER productions. Director, Kayleigh Hawkins, includes a few surprises and an effective representation of the wild stormy night without needing complex sets or effects.

Whilst this production might not appeal to all traditional fans of Shakespeare, it has much to recommend it for those with more modern tastes not least the quality of some of the leading performances. Lear might prove an interesting introduction to Shakespeare’s tragedies for those who, like this reviewer, had previously been put off by our experiences in school.

Christine Mackie (well known for playing Dr Gaddas in Coronation Street) in the lead role, as Lear, was outstanding with a powerful, and often sympathetic, portrayal of the highs and lows as Shakespeare’s aging monarch descends into madness. Her performance during the storm scenes and the realisation of the terrible wrongs that Lear had committed was very moving.

Haylie Jones was strong throughout as the scheming Edmund switching allegiances between Lear’s heirs and convincing his father, the Earl of Gloucester, that the legitimate brother, Edgar, had been plotting against him.

Fiona Scott as Edmund’s father, the Earl of Gloucester, was also excellent portraying the character as the upright supporter of the monarch who loses confidence and suffers the terrible revenge of Lear’s daughter Regan, and eventual reunion with Edgar.

Occasionally it was a little difficult to follow the plot as sisters Goneril and Regan, and their husbands, encouraged by Edmund, undermine each other and Lear himself.

This production gave a powerful representation of the tragedy of Lear, which brought about by the monarch’s own vanity, inability to understand the true nature of his daughters, and by their hunger for power, results in so much death and loss.

Overall this was a good night at the theatre and the audience response was clearly positive. The nurturing and developmental roles of the theatre and HER productions may occasionally lead to slightly less polished performances but those attending this show can expect a very intense telling of Shakespeare’s story with non-stop action, a few surprises, and some excellent performances. If you cannot catch a performance at Hope Mill the production will move to Shakespeare North from 21st to 24th.

HER Productions is a female-led theatre company based in Manchester whose productions, from Shakespeare to brand new writing, showcase local female theatre makers. Previous annual Shakespeare productions have been Romeo and Juliette, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.

Hope Mill Theatre based in an old Mill Building on Pollard Street, Manchester, presents a variety of performances including theatre, music, and comedy. The theatre also serves as a Community Hub with amateur dramatics, community choir, community orchestra and a play reading club as well as its own Theatre School offering training in musical theatre for ages 2 to 18.


7 views0 comments


bottom of page