(Jason Zinoman’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/10.)
In 1955 Orson Welles hatched a characteristically ambitious plan to stage the tragedy “King Lear” with Ben Jonson’s “Volpone,” a contemporaneous comedy.
“Volpone, or the Fox” was eventually shelved, which is too bad since these classic plays
make an illuminating contrast. They begin with the same plot device (a wealthy, aging man entertains three potential heirs), suggesting that even the greatest art relies on conventions as well as originality. Welles mounted “King Lear” with Alvin Epstein as the Fool. A half-century later Mr. Epstein, who starred in an acclaimed recent “Lear,” makes the most of a second chance, charmingly
playing an aging buffoon in the Red Bull Theater’s appealing new “Volpone.”