To the Editor of the CRIMSON:
The performance in Sanders Theatre by the Harvard Dramatic Club of "Much Ado About Nothing" last week marks a step in the right direction, and it is to be ardently hoped that the comparatively small and cool audiences will not discourage the Club from undertaking more of Shakespeare's plays.
If not a supreme triumph, it was what the British call in tennis a "noble effort." Whatever else can be said, it remains true that those "golden girls and lads" have been memorizing lines of immortal reputation, instead of ephemeral slang of the period; and what we memorize at twenty stays by us, as Mr. Kittredge knew when he assigned those hundreds of lines to be reproduced at midyears and finals.
But looked at from the point of view of art, the production fulfilled many of the conditions: undoubtedly it gave pleasure to the eye, the mind and--if one feels as a strongly as I do that Shakespeare is the backbone of the British character--to the spirit. Granted that the cues were a little behind-time, that the stage-lighting was elementary and on Wednesday night a source of innocent merriment, that some of the first characters to appear rattled off their lines too fast so that the audience decided they couldn't follow it anyway and didn't try, the lines of the main actors came out with clearness, force, and elegance, (to use Barrett Wendell's trilogy of requirements for writing a phrase which is a nutshell still unrivalled). Beatrice was has bewitching a heroine as ever roadway has produced, and her startling line. "Kill Claudio," though everyone knew it was coming, gave a genuine theatre-thrill.
The direction was distinguished if not entirely modern. The parting of the players into two lines, as they came down the rounding stairs at the close, was a most happy touch, and by no means the only one.
The chief trouble, was with the audience, which was not familiar enough with the Shakespearean idiom and manner to group quickly the situation and their implications. For this very reason, the Dramatic club should prove a missionary to those that sit in darkness, and prove the value of small reading-clubs like the Stratford club and the Old Shakespeare Club be of Cambridge, whose delight, in "Much Ado," qun play, was notably above the response, even of those speculator who plumed themselves on having seen this or that star and a priori judged the amateurs by that unfair standard. Yours very truly, William C. Holbrook '20.