In the first act of King Lear, the harassed sovereign, driven from his daughter’s house, cries, “Who is it that can tell me who I am?” If only existential questions were always so easy. In the Public Theater’s revival of King Lear, which begins performances Oct. 18, the benighted ruler is none other than Sam Waterston, a superb theater actor, now best known for his television roles. If you’ve seen Waterston on stage or screen then you’ll know his capacity for combining great force with great sympathy and always with particular intelligence. (In his last stage outing, as Polonius in the Public’s Hamlet, he made that old fool seem positively sage.) Under James Macdonald’s direction, he’ll play the monarch who chooses so unwisely among his daughters–and suffers the mother of all tragedies.
Oct. 16-Nov. 20, 2011