than the Bard. How many are going tonsee Much Ado About Nothing at thenFestival Theatre because Shakespearenwrote it? How many filled the house becausenMaggie Smith portrayed Beatrice?nMoreover, in Much Ado, Hero “dies”nbecause her virtue is besmirched by hernbetrothed. None of the characters thinknthe cause of death odd. Who can imaginena young woman dying of a false accusationnlike that today? Many a one in anlike situation would answer: “It’s nonenof your goddamn business if I was onnmy balcony last night! And if I was,nwhat’s it to you?”nA comment that Johnson did make innhis Preface: “A play read affects thenmind like a play acted.” The performancesnof Twelfth Night and Much AdonAbout Nothing bring that dictum tonthe bar of question. Granted, the readernof the play, thanks to footnotes, willnfind out what Shakespeare’s topical commentsnrefer to. That certainly brings andegree of clarity to the mind and enrichesnthe experience. But two actorsnin the plays do such tremendous jobsnthat the mind is affected in a way thatnwords can’t—on their own—accomplish.nRich McMillan as Sir AndrewnAguecheek in Twelfth Night is a caricaturencome to life: pop-eyes, an expressionnthat can only be called goofy, andnpurple-colored clothes that would makenSir Fopling Flutter sigh—he is morenvivid than a picture in the mind’s eye,nand his high voice and giggle enhancenit. Brian Bedford (an overlooked talent,nbut not at Stratford, where he has beennpart of the Company since 1975) playsnthe Puritan with the lemon-sucking expression,nMalvolio, in Twelfth Nightnand the quick-witted and sometimes vitriolicnBenedick in Much Ado. He doesntwo things that the mind can’t readilyndo for itself: he plays to the audience,naddressing them in asides as I’m surenShakespeare intended his characters to,nand smiling and raising his eyebrows asnneeded; and he has brilliant comedicntiming—he groups and patterns hisnwords, then executes them so that evennif the listener doesn’t know what Bed­n50inChronicles of Cttltwrenford is saying (e.g., when Shakespearenis chasing down a quibble), how he saysnit completes the picture. The only writernwho effectively approached these twonareas in print is Laurence Sterne.nX he audience for Titus Andronicusnon a Friday night performance was muchnsmaller than I expected. Although notnone of Shakespeare’s better-known playsn—nor one of his better ones, period—nWilliam Hutt, a veteran actor and directornwith the Company (he was therenwhen it was formed in 1953), headednthe cast, and that alone should havenfilled more seats. Titus should becomenone of the more widely performed playsn—or be made into a movie or TV miniseries.nAfter all, the play opens withntwo dead bodies, which are followed by:na sacrifice; a father killing his son; anothernmurder; a rape and mutilation;ntwo executions; another murder; anhanging; two throat-cuttings; cannibalism;nand four quick stabbing deaths.nNot only did the Elizabethans eat suchnfare with great relish, but so do the peoplenof today. How else can the popular­nity of such things as the film Halloween,nthe horror novels of Stephen King, andnTV’s “Dallas” be explained?nTitus Andronicus is a Roman; Tamoranis queen of the Goths. Much Ado is setnin Messina, Sicily. The setting of TwelfthnNight is Illyria, which is now the coastnof Yugoslavia. The actors and actressesn(except in rare cases) sound substantiallynnatural. Can those who argue againstnphony accents in films (e.g., the peasantsnin Dracula and Frankenstein and othernfilms sound like grunting semimoronsnwhile the leads sound weaned on a booknon elocution) find a better precedentnthan Shakespeare?n* * *nTwo comments overheard from angroup of “senior citizens” after a welldonenpresentation of Twelfth Night.n”Oh, so that’s Shakespeare!” (Read ansneering disappointment.) “If that wasnon TV, I’d change the channel.” Membersnof the group argued with the ushernnear the end of the 15-minute interval:nthey wanted to chew on their ice creamnsandwiches during the show. They werenquite bitchy about it. DnThe American ProsceniumnCarter & CarternBy now, the story has been told andnretold, and both Mr. James Carter, thenpresident of the United States, and Mr.nWilliam Carter, his brother, have wellassignednroles in contemporary affairs.nEven the most simple-minded citizennof this republic must have realized bynnow that Mr. William Carter was paidna substantial amount of money by anforeign government rather unfriendlynto America for services that have notnbeen clearly and fully explained to thenAmerican public. And even the most benignnobservers must have reached thenconclusion that those payments, ornfinancial rewards, were not lavishednupon Mr. William Carter in gratitudenfor his awesome intellectual contribu­nnntion to mankind, or in recognition ofnhis beauty of body or character.nIn his public analysis, President Carternexpressed a view that “everybodynknows you can’t push Billy around.”nThis is a puzzling arrogation, and evennthe strictest constructionist and thenmost ardent worshiper of civil rightsnmust feel impelled to ask: Why? Afternall, we are dealing here with mattersnthat affect the welfare of this nation.nAre we supposed to think—knowingnMr. William Carter’s lack of considerationnfor anything other than his ownnfinancial prosperity—that if a morengenerous offer comes from other quarters,nsay the Kremlin, we won’t be ablento push him around a bit? We, as anfree nation?n