It goes without saying that the cultured Paladin would attend a performance of Shakespeare. (He probably sent Hey Boy to be first in line at the box office.) It did seem odd that Paladin attended the closing performance alone. Even if none of his harem of young ladies was interested in Shakespeare, they would be anxious to be "seen" at such an eminent social gathering. Perhaps the writer was trying to imply that Paladin was interested in the actress.
Vincent Price and Patricia Morison were superb. Their characters gave the impression of being constantly "on stage". Even the most ordinary dialogue was not spoken--it was declaimed. After enjoying an intimate supper with Paladin, they announce that, while the rest of their troupe is returning home, Charles and Victoria are going to perform some scenes in San Diego as part of the "Roundup" celebrations. Paladin, genuinely concerned, urges them to reconsider: San Diego is still a rough town, with no interest in cultured entertainment. Charles and Victoria disagree; the works of Shakespeare would move anyone. After the actors take their leave, Paladin pulls out his ubiquitous billfold and extracts a newspaper clipping. It advertises the San Diego performance of the Shakespearian thespians: Victoria as a woman who can drive even a king to lust, and Charles as "The King of Comedy". This is the one flaw in an excellent episode: Paladin acted as though he were surprised at their announcement, which he shouldn't have been if he'd seen and clipped that advertisement. And if he'd really wanted to persuade them not to go, why didn't he show them that clipping? Naturally Paladin arranges to get himself in the middle of the situation. Lucien Bellingham, the theatrical promoter, having posted a number of suggestive sketches of Victoria, seems concerned that he's started something he can't handle, and gladly accepts Paladin's offer to act as troubleshooter--although he regards the potential faceoff between Paladin and Ben Jackson (who's obsessed with Victoria) as another aspect of the entertainment.
Charles and Victoria arrive, and are outraged at the way they've been presented. Paladin manages to get them out of harm's way (temporarily, at least). The actors courageously agree to go on with their performance, although their courage seems based on innocent ignorance: They can't believe that anyone would actually try to cause them harm, and, after having seen Paladin in his cultured persona, they can't believe in the gunslinger side. Victoria is convinced that he's just dressing the part.
The performance is quickly interrupted by Ben Jackson, and the fickle audience finds the ensuing fight just as entertaining. Paladin manages to convince Jackson to allow the performance to play out--they'll have their showdown afterwards. Disquietingly, Paladin seems to have injured his shooting hand. Jackson agrees, provided that the performance moves from the stage down on to the floor. (Why, I have no idea, unless he just wanted to be closer to Victoria.) Charles and Victoria prove to be troupers in the fullest sense of the term; not only are they agreeable to the change, they seem excited by it. They surely were not accustomed to having the audience practically breathing down their necks, but they did not allow that to effect their performances--which were quite awesome. Charles and Victoria were right. Shakespeare worked his magic, and the rough, tough audience--including Paladin, who'd already seen them--were spellbound. (Paladin, in fact, copped a front-row seat, although he'd probably say that it was to keep the peace.)
Having discovered that Victoria was a married woman--in spite of having different last names--Ben Jackson quickly seized on Paladin's wounded hand as an excuse not to fight. They don't specifically say that Paladin faked that injury, but judging by his smug expression as he travelled out of town, it seems a reasonable assumption.
Not a profound episode by any means, but lots of fun.