rail workers discuss Hegel between onenun blanc and another, shop girls speaknendlessly about biology, and sub-teennboys ponder womanhood and the rapturesnof carnality. And everything makesnsome sense—more or less. Handkerchiefsnis a fugue on modern French permissiveness:nin fact, nothing much hasnchanged with the French in the realmnof erotica and its complexity; there arenjust more four-letter words than in thenpast, and they are now turned loose adnnauseam. The movie is bizarre, grotesquenand baroque for the sake ofnlaughs, but underlying the grotesquerynCorrespondencenis a sort of shoddy wisdom: men do notnknow a thing about women, womennknow even less about themselves becausenthey are so much less knowledgeablenthan men, and 13-year-old boysncan be damned manipulative in order tonengage in their first sexual experience.nThereby, the French contribution to thennew wave of modish sexual explicitnessnin movies introduces a motif of intriguingnperversity, which can be easilyndiscounted as unserious and offbeat—nbut which, actually, possesses a qualitynof disturbing insight that still can benfound in Europe. DnLetter from Canada: Shakespeare & Gaynin Stratford, Ontarionby Gary VasilashnIwenty-eight years ago. Sir AlecnGuinness trod the stage in a small westernnOntario farming community. Thenplay was Richard III, The stage was in antent. Since that time, every play innShakespeare’s canon has been performednin that town at least once, and this isnto say nothing of works by writers fromnSophocles to Beckett. The first yearn68,000 attended; last year more thann500,000 came. The Stratford Festivalnis a curiosity: some of the best actorsnin the world go there each year to performnin the world’s classics. The drivenwest from Toronto or east from Detroitnis, for the most part, through farm land.nThere are cows in fields up to the townnlimits, and the architecture in the townnis from the Second Eclectic periodn(1880-1930)-the Gothic and Romanesquenrevival. The whole setting is notnwhat would be expected for such an importantnstage. Perhaps that’s why thenactors go there. But whatever the case,nMr, Vasilash is Associate Editor ofnManufacturing Engineering magazinenin Detroit,nhere are some comments—or “papernbullets of the brain,” as Benedick mightnput it—about four of the Festival’s Junenopenings: The Beggar’s Opera (at thenAvon Theatre), Titus Andronicus,nTwelfth Night, and Much Ado AboutnNothing (at the Festival Theatre).nWith friends like Swift, Pope andnArbuthnot, there can be little wondernthat John Gay was able to make ThenBeggar’s Opera (1728) a powerful satirenthat has probably as many targets fornits barbs of wit as that founding membernof the Scriblerus Club was able to packninto it—and still make some money, asnhis life was full of misfortunes, such asna political post lost due to the death ofnQueen Anne and a fortune lost due tonthe South Sea Bubble. Targets include:nSir Robert Walpole, a favorite victimn(q.v., the rope dancing in Gulliver’snTravels); the opera form, which wasnbecoming popular at that time; and thenconcept of the lower classes of societynbeing constantly full of joy, a themenwhich Gay dealt with in The ShepardsnWeek, which mocked the conventions ofnpastoral poetry. However, the work isntimeless: a viewer can watch the StratfordnFestival’s presentation at the AvonnnnTheatre, not be aware of Gay’s aims,nand still find it delightful. The exposurenof so-called manners and morals (ornmore precisely, the lack of them) in anfarcical manner will always be funny,nand the actors and actresses, singersnand dancers at the Avon are up to Gay’snpen.nhJrecht took the Opera and transformednit into The Threepenny Operan(1928). The thieves and whores ofnGay’s version become the oppressednproletariat. Could the recent Brecht/nWeill revival have something to do withnthe staging at Stratford.^ Happily, directorsnRobin Phillips and Gregory Petersonnhave left the play in the realm ofnGay. However, there are some modernntouches. In the prologue, ostensiblynabout Walpole, one hears the StratfordnYouth Choir (a group, incidentally,nwhich really makes the production) singna reference to AyatoUah Khomeini.nMany of the musical arrangements havenbeen updated by Berthold Carriere:nmelodies from “White Christmas” ton”The Wizard of Oz,” and jazz rhythmsnand appropriate choreography abound.nBut purists, take heart: those changesnare the most notable departures fromnGay; the costumes, setting and textnare faithful to the original. Could Phillipsnand Peterson have taken Gay’s approachnand put as much of the 18thncentury into it as possible, while rememberingnthat’ a completely straight piecenmight not make money in 1980.”nDr. Johnson did not have too highnan opinion of actors. When Boswellnasked him why he didn’t mention DavidnGarrick in his Preface to Shakespeare,nJohnson answered, in part, “I would notndisgrace my page with a player . . . Henhas not made Shakespeare betternknown.” It must be recalled that Garricknwas one of the foremost Shakespeareannactors and producers of hisnday, and a former student of Johnson’s,nand that they made their initial journeyn(i.e., into the World) from Lichfield tonLondon together in 1737. I suspectnthat today the player is more importantnSeptember/October 1980n