Prologue: A Fool stumbles across the remnants of an unknown disaster, finding a crown and other
belongings, which awakens her memories of the families of Lear and Gloucester.
Cordelio, Lear’s youngest child, covertly meets another man. His sisters, Goneril and Regan, discover the
tryst. Citizens of the kingdom are summoned for the King’s announcement: the kingdom will be divided
among Lear’s children based on their declaration of love for him. After the sisters make ostentatious
displays of love, Cordelio, disturbed by the shallowness, simply tells Lear that he loves him. Lear is
disappointed but offers Cordelio the largest piece of the kingdom. Outraged, the sisters expose Cordelio as
a homosexual. Lear flies into a rage, banishing Cordelio, despite the protests of Lear’s faithful advisor, Kent.
Cordelio leaves with his secret lover. Goneril and Regan conspire to betray their father.
At the house of Gloucester, Edmund, the bastard son of Gloucester, devises a plot to betray his brother
Edgar and convinces Gloucester and Edgar that each is planning to kill the other. Edgar flees as Gloucester
sends his men in pursuit, leaving Edmund the sole inheritor of Gloucester’s title.
Goneril and her servant Oswald prepare for Lear’s arrival. Lear enters with his Fool and Kent, distributing his
possessions in the house. Exasperated, Goneril throws Lear’s belonging out. Enraged, Lear declares that he
will stay with his other daughter. Goneril dispatches Oswald to inform Regan that Lear is on his way. On the
road to Regan’s, Lear sends Kent ahead, as he is held up by a vision of Death. Oswald arrives at Regan’s but
is interrupted by the arrival of Kent, who recognizes him as Goneril’s servant and begins to beat him. Kent is
overpowered and imprisoned.
King Lear arrives at Regan’s and discovers the imprisoned Kent. Lear confronts Regan, who then kicks him
out. Realizing that he has been betrayed by both daughters, Lear departs into a growing storm.
King Lear wanders through the storm where he meets Death and has a vision of Cordelio. He begins to
descend into madness, chasing the storm and his hallucinations, as he is buried in the sand. The Fool and
Kent rescue him. Meanwhile, Cordelio receives a message from Kent about Lear and prepares his army. He
sends word to Gloucester, who informs Edmund and leaves to find Lear. Edmund discloses Cordelio’s plan
to Regan and her husband Cornwall, who prepare their soldiers to hunt down Lear and Cordelio.
Lear, Kent, and the Fool happen upon the shelter of Poor Tom, a madman who is actually the banished
Edgar in disguise. Lear, in despair over his family, collapses as Gloucester arrives. Regan’s soldiers find the
group and capture Gloucester with the letter from Cordelio. Gloucester is tortured and blinded by Regan. A
servant, angered, confronts and kills Cornwall, but Regan kills the servant. Edmund then seduces her, over
The blinded Gloucester attempts suicide. Edgar, still disguised, sees him and stops his father from killing
himself, without revealing his identity. In the interim, Edmund also seduces Goneril. Goneril’s husband
Albany accuses her of betrayal. Elsewhere, the Fool and Kent are reunited with Cordelio, as Cordelio’s forces
prepare for war.
Edgar leads Gloucester through the wilderness, when Lear, now fully mad, enters and meets the blind
Gloucester. The vision of Death reappears, and Lear follows it away. Oswald finds and attacks Gloucester.
Edgar kills Oswald. Gloucester, recognizing his lost son’s face, dies of happiness.
A battle ensues between Cordelio and Goneril, Regan, and Edmund. At the close of the battle, Cordelio
rescues Lear, who snaps out of his madness and recognizes his lost son. However, the victorious Edmund
captures both. Edmund assumes the crown for himself, accompanied by Regan. Albany enters with Goneril
and accuses Edmund of treason. Edgar challenges Edmund, killing his brother. Discovering that Lear and
Cordelio are sentenced to death, Edgar attempts to stop the hanging but is too late to save Cordelio. Lear’s
grief fills the world.
Epilogue: The Fool puts the ruins back to rest.