Reviewed by Deborah May
Throughout this rendition of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, Beatrice (Deborah Hay) and Benedick (Ben Carlson) brilliantly portray their characters. The chemistry between the actors enhances this portrayal enveloping the audience in the wit, criticism and banter between them. The sense of timing and body gestures allows as much of the message to be communicated as do the words. Photo by David Hou
In the opening scene, as three of the main characters; Leonato, Hero and Beatrice hear of the return of the soldiers from the war from the messenger, the upbeat scene is set for the banter that will follow as well as clearly defining the characters. As the soldiers enter, Leonato (James Blendick) welcomes his returning friends from the war with the grace and eloquence that befits the dignity of character and the status of his position as Governor of Messina. Hero (Behany Jillard), ever the respectable daughter of Leonato, leaves the dialogue and banter to the others while remaining an important figure on the stage. Beatrice brilliantly banters with Benedick setting the stage for the dialogue that defines these two characters as two of Shakespeare’s wittiest. Their ability to weave a stream of puns, criticism or wit into every word in each encounter entices the audience and draws them into the play.
Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero and as they pledge their love for each other and agree to marry, the scene is set for waging against marriage and love by Beatrice and Benedick. While they continue to exchange quips and profess to not care for each other, the depth of the feelings they have for each other becomes evident. Overhearing Don Pedro and Claudio as they conspire to fool him into thinking Beatrice loves him; Benedick expresses his reaction in an outstanding display of dramatic effect in both movement and words. Perhaps the most exquisite display of stage movement comes from Beatrice as she slides down the staircase in shock and dismay of overhearing that Benedick loves her, as Hero and Ursula fool Beatrice.
Hero and Claudio’s conventional love allows for the fit of jealousy from Claudio to overtake the stage. Claudio’s (Tyrone Savage) accusations of Hero at the wedding display the depth of hurt for him and the humiliation of Hero.
Much Ado About Nothing still entertains audiences through wit & brilliant character portrayals. This is a must see for both theatre and Shakespeare lovers.