Theater: His Play's The Thing

But soft! What light is being shone on our old pal Shakespeare?

Why do we keep coming back to Shakespeare? The hard truth is that most modern theatergoers can fully grasp only a fraction of his dense Elizabethan dialogue. Critics, moreover, seem intent on making the experience even more intimidating: they become stern schoolmasters when judging those who dare tackle the iambic pentameter. Alec Baldwin's brawny, quite watchable Macbeth at New York City's Public Theatre last winter drew testy reviews. Still the show was a sellout.

Indeed, Shakespeare is enjoying a good season. The Royal Shakespeare Company is finishing up its most extensive U.S. visit to date, a six-week run that began at...

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