In the context of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s visit to New York this year and Terry Hands’s productions of Cyrano de Bergerac and Much Ado About Nothing at the Gershwin Theater on Broadway, I have been thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend not long ago during a recent trip to London. We were sitting at a little table outside of a wine bar in Covent Garden. It was one of those clear, chilly end-of-summer evenings in London that seem to take a long time to settle down around you, and the whole world, as it went loping by us on King Street, seemed wanting to intrude: the young man who wanted to bum a cigarette, the older one who wanted to sit down at our table, the skinheads leaning noisily against a nearby car.

But we had bought a bottle of wine and were deep in conversation. We were talking about London theater and somehow the conversation seemed to keep...


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