Come now, what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after supper and bedtime?

—Theseus, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Lord, Mr. Dangle, why will you plague me about such nonsense?. . . Isn’t it sufficient to make yourself ridiculous by your passion for the theater without continually teasing me to join you?
—Mrs. Dangle, in Sheridan’s The Critic

Quite recently, I was taken to the ballet —twice, within a brief space of time. The friend who took me to see a performance of the MacMillan Romeo and Juliet at American Ballet Theatre goes rather frequently to the ballet herself and knew when she invited me that I had not been to the ballet in years.

Actually, she didn’t know the half of it: apart from Coppelia, I couldn’t remember ever having...

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