The stakes are high for American Players Theatre this season, writer Bruce Murphy observes: "The state recently awarded the company an unprecedented $250,000 grant that no other arts group was allowed to compete for...and critics have become increasingly insistent about APT's 'world-class' status. Expectations are higher than ever, despite the fact that the theater has lost its original visionary and master Shakespearean actor, Randall Duk Kim." This season's first two productions - "a diverting but hardly definitive" version of A Midsummer Night's Dream and "a plodding, perplexingly unfunny Twelfth Night" that "boasts more melancholiacs than a convention of Hamlets" - fall far short of those expectations, in Murphy's appraisal. He assails the productions' directors: "The prevailing view of an APT production, one suspects, goes something like this: Sure, it might be slow or stodgy at times, but that's what the unbowdlerized Bard was like. And anyway, it's supposed to be good for us. The unfortunate result is the perpetuation of a familiar fallacy, one that has been imposed on generations of high school English students: that there is something rather dry and untheatrical about Shakespeare." APT survives Murphy's assault: Now in its 29th year, it is embarked on a $4 million capital campaign to fund the addition of an indoor theater.