Edgar/poor Tom from King Lear

Back to Shakespeare’s Characters

I used to read the plays of Shakespeare we have in our bookcase at home, together with my best friend and future sister-in-law when we were children. We played some parts each and I remember King Lear was the one which impressed us the most. But looking back at those days, I remember I was focused on the sisters tragedy and I didn’t pay much attention to the secondary characters. But lately, reading the play again, I wondered why I totally forgot the sad but intriguing parallel story of the three Glouchesters, a father and his two sons, who would deserve a spin-off, like the one with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!

So here a list of some actors who played Edgar/poor Tom in some versions of King Lear (in chronological order from older to newest). For some I was lucky enough to find more than one photos!

It can’t be exhaustive, of course, because the role was played so many times, so I post just my favorites or those I find curious!

Read also a collection of all the Edgar’s speeches: opensourceshakespeare.org


2016 Coming soon: Henry MellingOld Vic Theatre – London (he played the Fool in King Lear for the Chichester Festival Theatre, 2014) – I will post photos as soon as I find them.


2016 Oliver JohnstoneRSC – Stratford-Upon-Avon and London plus broadcast in cinemas – One of my two favourites! I was lucky to see the play in Stratford. Oliver made a stunning performance nobody should miss! Photographer Ellie Kurtzz.

2014 Tom Brooke – National Theatre – I saw it with NTLive and he made me realize there’s a beautiful parallel story in King Lear! He was totally naked! Photographer Mark Douet.

2007-2008 Ben Meyjes – RSC – Tour – One of my two favourites! I have to find the photographer.

1993 Iain GlenThe Royal Court – London – I have to find the photographer.

1986 Bill Nighy – Olivier Theatre/National Theatre – London. Photographers: Clark Nobby, Linda Westmore.


(will follow)


Interesting video: “King Lear – Analyzing Staging in Act 2 – Edgar Becomes Poor Tom” – A look at six performances, from Edwin Stanley, 1916, to Ben Meyjes, 2008:

It’s amazing to see how performances have changed in one century! I definitely prefer the 1983 and the 2008 ones!