Barton gets half a dozen actors to recite the first line of Merchant of Venice:
In truth, I know not why I am so sad.
That's Antonio. Ten syllables, ten words, as near to a perfect iambic as you're going to find. But as Barton shows, it can define his character for the rest of the play. He gets half a dozen of the actors in his company to give it a go; they come up with wildly different characters--not all of whom you'd want to watch, but no matter, the point is made.
It also sets Barton up to pursue again a point he has been pursuing through the series: actors have to earn a particular interpretation--a line, or a pause, or whatever. They have to figure out a way to create a context where a particular bit makes sense. So, for example, after Emilia discovers the murder of Desdemona (a few pages after) she shouts "O villainy, villainy!" Her husband Iago responds: "What, are you mad? I charge you get you home." And Emilia says:
Good gentlemen, let me have leave to speak.There is so much in those three lines. She's respectful of authority; she shows respect for her husband, the villain. There's a touch of domestic intimacy. But:
'Tis proper I obey him, but now now.
Perchance, Iago, I will ne'er go home.
Perchance...I will ne'er go home.
In fact, a few moments later Iago kills her--so she does not go home. Or, ironically, "goes to her final home". Or simply: my life is so altered that no matter what happens, that nothing will ever be the same. In context--and with an actress who knows how to set it up--this can be as effective as anything in the play. But that, I think, is the real difficulty with Shakespeare for the audience--not the antique language, but the fact thst there is so much going on that you've got to be engaged every minute or you are going to miss the good stuff.
Barton also stages two bits of hugely effective poetry from non-obvious sources: one, Ian McKellen as Justice Shallow, only beginning to recognize his own mortlity ("Jesu, Jesu, dead!--a' drew a good bow; --and dead!"); and the other, a boffo performance by Donald Sinden and Peggy Ashcroft as Falstaff and the old whore Doll Tearsheet ("Kiss me, Doll!") as warm-hearted a piece of domestic intimacy as ever you are likely to see on stage. Did Sinden ever actually play Falstaff, I wonder? There are a lot of bad Falstaffs, but I would have gone a long way to see this one. And as to Barton--what a privilege and what an education it must have been to work with this guy: a director who makes everyone around him better. Like I say, I only wish there were 20 more.