Indefatigable character actor David Ryall, stalwart of Olivier’s Old Vic and Peter Hall’s National, now best known to youngsters as Dumbledore’s pal and Grandad in Outnumbered, finally graduates to leading man in Darker Purpose Theatre’s King Lear at The Cockpit.
It’s a family affair, with Ryall’s daughters Charlie and Imogen playing Cordelia and the doctor respectively. Their natural bond adds weight to the elegiac later scenes, Charlie’s briskly matter-of-fact Cordelia softening believably as her father’s tyranny slides into fragility.
Unfortunately, Ryall senior wasn’t at full strength, relying on the script after a recent course of chemotherapy affected his memory. There were tantalising glimpses of a great interpretation, fiercely heartfelt, but his performance – understandably – was more irascible than indomitable.