The Theater: Tameness Is All


James Earl Jones seems to know a good deal about kingship but very little about old age. His King Lear at the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park has a certain grandeur in the early portions of the work, a ground base of reasonable outrage over the lèse-majesté of his elder daughters. Yet the eccentricities of age—the sudden frets and pets, the false starts, queer hesitations and erratic humors of senility—are only rarely present.

As a result, Lear's descent into madness after Goneril (Rosalind Cash) and Regan (Ellen...

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