Theater Double, Double

The idea that rivalry between British and American Macbeths could stir their New York City partisans to murderous riot seems almost unimaginably quaint. But in his witty and poignant evocation of the madness of 1849, TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS, playwright Richard Nelson slyly suggests parallels to our era's battles over supposed Eurocentric cultural imperialism. The play's underlying debate: Is art universal, or does it belong exclusively to its nation of origin? Nelson touches on these matters in glittering moments rather than digging in with Shavian relentlessness. He focuses on three actors: William Charles Macready (Brian Bedford), the English Macbeth, a man with...

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