Shakespeare's play, however, is more about politics than it is about ancient heroes, about the politics of Rome as the elected government gave way to dictatorship. It's a story about patriotism and corruption, about conspiracies and alliances.
When I was a junior in college I fell in love with Shakespeare. I was determined to become the next Kenneth Branagh--in large part because I wanted to bed his then wife, Emma Thompson. Love of literature can be based on worse things.
As in life, some packages disappoint. But the ones that deliver on deep delight do so hugely. They are worth waiting for. They are worth savoring. They breathe. They stir. They sing. They linger. Pity the Beautiful is a shining example.
My concerns about missing the most perfect turns of the English language were largely unfounded. The plays are so good, that in the hands of passionate performers they go beyond the need to comprehend the words to get their meaning.
The Classic Stage Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream has an eye-catching set and an eye-catching cast in various stages of undress. But the visage you're most likely to remember is that of the self-assured Neuwirth.
The following bit of Shakespearean amusement was concocted by my great friend Bernard Levin. I've decided to post it here so that and all of you can have it to download, print out, e-mail, link to... and enjoy.
Not only have Shakespeare's works survived directorial updating and near-villainous tampering with the text, they are still taught in high schools and colleges around the world. What has changed is the wealth of teaching tools now available in the classroom and on the Internet.