The Theater: Old Play in Manhattan, Jan. 23, 1956

King Lear. For his return to the U.S. stage after nine years abroad, Orson Welles chose a tragedy as theatrically challenging as it is tremendous. His King is every inch a showman. His Lear is often pictorially brilliant. But it is hardly, on Shakespeare's terms, Lear; nor, even on Welles's terms, successful.

With its striding rages and vivid madness, Welles's Lear scarcely buttressed the widespread belief that the part is unactable; even with an injured ankle, Welles was never a mere "old gentleman tottering about with a walking stick." But both as actor and...

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