From the very beginning of Lear the audience is encouraged to ‘get amongst it’ and not ‘cower in the corners’ in order to get the most out of this Shakespeare adaptation. I enjoy moving closer to the actors as they address us directly as their people; I feel part of the family, and slightly uncomfortable at times, which I suspect is the point.

Lear(played by Ursula Mohan) announces her retirement from public life and the division of her kingdom between her three daughters. Immediately we witness the emotional dependency of Lear. Cordelia(Daisy Ward), the youngest, refuses to “heave her heart into her mouth” like her two sisters. She is silent in her love. This triggers the first of many outbursts that trap and torment Queen Lear. These irrational and almost child-like furies are a source of great turbulence for the other characters, the frenzy of which reverberates through the piece from this moment onwards.

Edmund (Rikki Lawton) plans to gain his brother’s lands through lies and trickery. The scenes shared with his father, the Earl of Gloucester (Richard Derrington), are electric; not only in the marking of the actors’ understanding and playfulness with the text, but also in respect of Edmund’s evilly uninhibited plans, planted fast and fruitful, told to us in very close proximity.

Claire Jeater’s Goneril makes her every entrance memorable and unique. Fierce and neurotic, her actions are underscored with her unwavering greed for money and men. Even with her marigolds on we can sense she is not to be confronted. Her accomplice and sister Regan (played by Felicity Duncan), is marvellously portrayed: privileged and pit bull-like in stature, as strong in the mind as her sister as she fights her to the finish for triumph and blood.

Phil Willmott’s direction and Phil Lindley’s design demonstrate an extraordinary use of the space. I feel immersed in every moment of action, in the forefront, and in the same breath, I watch as the actors create a tableaux in the shadows. I am a little disappointed that I don’t manage to gain a seat at the large dining table for the third part of the play, until I hear the gentle and unassuming piano being played at my side by Cordelia, her sweet hope and loyalty so sadly weeping onto the keys, despite her mother’s acknowledgement and apology.

The landscape of the unravelling mind spreads vast for us as we journey alongside Lear. Cursed and hopeless, she shuffles around for her final breaths, capturing our empathy to the edge of her final second. Death and damnable action stamp heavy through this dark piece, but I stay seated, wishing for a beacon of hope to shine and redeem the cursed family, even though I am aware there will be no such reckoning. The cast for the most part are testament to this very special version of one of Shakespeare’s saddest triumphs. An evening not to be missed for the brave at heart – definitely take a tissue!

Lear runs at the Union Theatre until 2 August. For more information and to book tickets please see the Union Theatre website.