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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Nunn defends RSC over Lear claims
Trevor Nunn
Sir Trevor was director of the National Theatre for five years to 2003
Director Trevor Nunn has defended the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in a BBC Radio 4 interview over its decision to cancel a King Lear press night.

The press night was pulled seven weeks ago after leading lady Frances Barber had an accident, but critics have still not had a chance to review the play.

The part of Goneril is now being played by understudy Melanie Jessop.

"All the RSC is trying to do is to prepare the best possible performance for the press," Sir Trevor said.

Sir Trevor told BBC Radio 4's The Message that the King Lear press night will now take place on 31 May.

Press night for the RSC production of the Chekhov play The Seagull, also featuring Barber, is scheduled for the same date.

Barber, who injured her knee and has since undergone surgery is expected to return for the press views of both.

Sir Trevor explained that while it must have been "irritating for critics" to not have had a chance to review King Lear, which also stars Sir Ian McKellen, it had not been possible to reschedule the press night sooner.

Frances Barber
Actress Barber will return to the stage at the end of May

"Every performance was sold out so there was no room for another press night," he said, adding that he had written to the Critics' Circle to apologise and explain.

Responding to accusations that the RSC was trying to stop the play being reviewed, he said: "Nobody in the RSC, certainly not me, has banned the press".


Theatre critic and Critics' Circle member Michael Coveney acknowledged that critics' diaries were frequently full, making finding a free evening for both parties difficult.

He said it was also difficult to get to Stratford upon Avon, where the RSC is based.

But he added: "I think they should have gone ahead with the press night... it's a cock up rather than a campaign against the critics."

While there is no official embargo on reviews of the Shakespeare tragedy, an unofficial code of conduct has ensured most critics have not reviewed the play since it opened at the end of March.

But Germaine Greer, writing in the Guardian newspaper, panned the play, and said "the production is as perverse as anything Trevor Nunn has ever done".

Sir Trevor described Greer's review as "a diatribe" and speculated it was "revenge" for not holding the press night earlier.

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