The Shadow King is a story of power and vanity, fuelled by the disfiguring sense of entitlement, that is played out within a contemporary indigenous family dynasty in Arnhem land.
This compelling and confronting adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, four years in the making, is the brainchild of director Michael Kantor and Tom E Lewis. It is inspired by the often tragic and desperate circumstances in current day Katherine, Tom’s home base.
This story illuminates human frailties. Exposing destructive internal forces that fuel greed, jealousy, ambition and politics. Forces that can distort and manipulate perceptions resulting in dire consequences.
All his life King Lear has been a major land owner and patriarch to his family and community. Now old and lacking wisdom he is lost in hedonism. His vanity craves the love and loyalty of his three daughters to support him in his twilight years. In deciding to divide his land between his three daughters, he ignites a sense of injustice.
Edmund, played by Jimi Bani, is deemed a bastard child by his community. He decides to turn the tables for himself, schemes to take down his legitimate brother and to secure wealth and power endears himself with Lear’s daughters played by Jada Alberts, Rarriway Hick and Natasha Wanganeen. He stops at nothing to achieve his goal.
One of the most absorbing and compelling ingredients of the story is the intoxicating use of indigenous language that appears to spring from the earth itself. We are drawn into a deeper understanding of human complexities and our ultimate desire for wisdom and humility. This is most poignantly revealed by Frances Djulbing when she is singing her song of sorrow and loss, a song composed by her.
Performing musicians Bart Willoughby from the legendary band No Fixed Address, Selwyn Burns and Djakapurra Munyarryun did not miss a beat in keeping the audience pinned to the stage in anticipation of the next scene. The magical scene transitions were subtly delivered by ingeniously multi layered staging. For me it was a much anticipated show and I loved it.
Co-Creators Michael Kantor & Tom E. Lewis
Director Michael Kantor
Lighting Design Paul Jackson
Set Design Paul Jackson, Michael Kantor & David Miller
Sound Design Kelly Ryall
Props & Costume Design Ruby Langton-Batty
Music Consultant Iain Grandage
Musical Arrangements John Rodgers
Dramaturg Marion Potts
Film Natasha Gadd, Rhys Graham & Murray Lui
Performers Jada Alberts, Jimi Bani, Frances Djulibing, Damion Hunter, Rarriwuy Hick, Kamahi Djordan King, Tom E. Lewis, Natasha Wanganeen
Band Selwyn Burns, Djakapurra Munyarryun, Bart Willoughby