King Lear: the love of a father in the intricacies of the truth

Passionate staging of a sublime Shakespeare play. A play in one piece: compact, structured, robust, precise. It opens to unfold, without haste, but with a progressive acceleration of the rhythm, a repertoire of known feelings, of internal contradictions, of earthly passions. A tribute to the Father if ever there was one. He who is who he is and under whose reign and scepter everything was, apparently, prosperity. But one day the king, feeling old, grumpy and haughty, decides to divide his kingdom among his daughters by the yardstick of love. A love of which he knows nothing, for the king is, above all, ignorance. 

That is why he needs to ask which of them loves him the most. And for the only time in his life that he is faced with an answer, that of his youngest daughter, he does not want to hear it. The first appearance of truth: truth always brings a tyrant by the hand. This is Cordelia, at first, for her father.

From that moment on, with the initial roll of the dice, everything will be about unraveling, scene by scene, the nature of love for the father. Each character speaks, unfolds with their actions and reflections of this bond. It is not surprising, then, that it is Edmund, Gloucester's bastard son, who can pull the strings as he pleases, with the use of secret letters, which once again bring the truth to the stage, this time in the garb of secrecy. Edmund's driving passion, then, is his bastardy. He craves power, certainly; but above all he wants revenge on the whole world for his condition. He is the one who has no moral law, since it is inherited from his father.


Parallel to the filial bond of the king and his three daughters, walks the other trio, Gloucester and his two sons. Edmund can see much that others cannot; the envy and passions that hide beneath the veils of brotherly love. But he does not see it all. He needs to be mortally wounded to sniff the scent of a tiny feeling of compassion which, of course, always comes too late. His brother Edgar, on the other hand, is his counterpoint. As the legitimate son, he never lives up to his father's expectations. Gloscester is deceived, but not by Edmund, but by his blindness. It is not until his eyes are gouged out that he can begin to see. The letter from the infamous bastard son only confirms his suspicion. Once again the truth -even in the form of a lie- at the hand of a tyrant. The letter sets in motion, as in the scene with the monarch, the path that will lead Gloscester to knowledge, not truth, by way of exile.


Edgar is the son par excellence. The play tells us of his journey, guided at all times by filial love. Mortally wounded by his father's abandonment, it is only through madness, the sister of knowledge and wisdom, that he can forgive his father, recover his sanity and finally take his place. This is the sequence of the assumption of the paternal function: to love him, to lose him, to forgive him and then to take his place.


In the female realm, of course, things are much more complex. Cordelia is the most loved and she knows it. She is also the one who loves her father the most, that is why she can love other men, that is why she can tell him the truth: "my love is respect and obedience, but it is not everything for you".


She is the one who has his love. She moves the first piece of the play to remain hidden in exile, waiting for the moment when her words will reveal the nature of family ties. How good Cordelia is, what a faithful servant of love and truth! She sacrifices herself in the name of truth, without, on the other hand, caring about anyone. Finally she will have the opportunity to put into practice the extent of her love for her father: she will die in his arms, because she will not be able to go any further. She fulfills her tragic destiny and dies like a queen, a true partner of her father.


The older sisters are the wicked witches of fairy tales. Driven by resentment at not being the father's favorite, they play the game with more mundane passions: ambition and power. They are not in the least interested in the truth, which has always treated them at a disadvantage. The father having retired, the kingdom is now theirs. Whim drives their actions and decisions. Intrigues, punishments and murders follow one after the other before their undaunted presences. But they both have the same Achilles' heel: beneath their bitter faces and surly words hide two passionate little princesses who would be willing to do anything to fall ardently into the arms of a knave, who can be none other than a liar.


Finally, it is the King who takes us by the hand, throughout the play, along his path of understanding. The King, who, though old and foolish, will not miss the opportunity to acquire some knowledge about the nature of his being and his kingdom before he goes to his grave. First, he is a king banished from the house of his own daughters. Stripped of his army, he is going to form it from the madmen and vagabonds he meets on his way. They will begin to explain to him what the world is all about. Because they, the madmen, the vagabonds, expect nothing from him, he certainly goes mad, but then again madness is the way of wisdom. He goes mad because the nature of his world, the one he has inhabited and ruled for so many years, is fragile, it is made with his passion of ignorance. It is then that, defeated and wandering, he can begin to see. Then he will beg forgiveness from his youngest daughter. 


Similarly, Gloscester's journey parallels that of the king, for it is not as king that all his misfortunes befall him, but as father. Gloscester senior is as blind as his king. His arrogance, his calculation and his security will soon lead him to the same position as the king, to exile where wanderers and other beings for nothingness will remind him of his own mortality. Victim of treachery and other passions, his eyes are gouged out, and only then does he begin the most lucid stretch of existence of his life. Finally, blind, he is able to find his soul in the son he once disowned, who becomes his guide, his walking stick, his gaze. Life gives him, in his last breath, the chance to see him before his hollow eyes. Gloscester dies peacefully.


All these tragic characters are accompanied by a group of nameless beings who, nevertheless, bring to the stage the essence of the dimension of truth, that which can only be told half-heartedly. This marvelous play also highlights the following: that everyone lives in their own world, that even wealth and poverty are conditions of a world made to our unconscious measure. Others, whom we need and love, participate in our world, but this is not always pleasant and agreeable, because inevitably the path is strewn with our own surprises that await us, because we have to abandon our mediocre omnipotence.


Irene Domínguez.