Much Ado About Nothing
Reflections by GVPTA blogger Keara Barnes
The title says it all; a great deal of drama …for no reason at all.
For when malicious lies are spread and earnestly believed, chaos inevitably results. And when the callous creator of such blatant untruths is given a willing audience of followers, we are no longer in control of the outcome of their actions. Much Ado about Nothing, written over 400 years ago, is as relevant today as it ever was; we need only look at the headline figure in our daily news feed to see evidence of that.
Director John Murphy’s adaptation takes place in 1959 Italy, on the set of a film studio. Instead of a prince, Don Pedro is a director. Instead of soldiers, Benedick and Claudio are actors. Beatrice herself is a celebrated actress, as evident in her entire demeanor. The choice supports the characters immensely- fueling their egos and Beatrice and Benedick’s power feud.
Ridiculous, grandiose requests run rampant in the script (murder requests, faked deaths, staged affairs), but what else would one expect in a Shakespeare comedy? Many performers in the production furthermore embody this grandiose comic physicality, eliciting many a laugh from the audience in the process. The ensemble is strong- capable of wit, farce, and tears, sometimes in the same scene. The production design as well is exceptional, far from minimalistic, and simply beautiful. With rolling set pieces, period film equipment, and, to top it off, two working Italian scooters, it is a cinematic (yes you read that right) feat, fit for nothing less than movie stars.
It is a feat for the ears as well, with Shakespeare’s celebrated banter between rivals/lovers Benedick and Beatrice. The contemporary setting highlights Beatrice’s modernity - she is an independent heroine, the star of her own movie, without the need of a man to depend upon. She defies the typical role of a female in a patriarchal society - both in 1598 and in 1959, desiring not to be a subservient woman but a self-sufficient star who is smart, strong and sassy. However, she does end up in the very role she initially refused, that of a wife. It is a love story after all: one very much worth seeing.
Much Ado About Nothing plays on the BMO Mainstage at Bard on the Beach until September 23rd 2017.
For information and tickets: https://bardonthebeach.org/2017/much-ado-about-nothing
Cast: David M. Adams, Lois Anderson, Ian Butcher, Chris Cochrane, Austin Eckert, Ben Elliot, Julien Galipeau, Amber Lewis, Jennifer Lines, Kevin MacDonald, Sereana Malani, Ashley O’Connell, Laara Sadiq, Parmiss Sehat, Andrew Wheeler, Kaitlin Williams
Director: John Murphy
Bard on the Beach presents Much Ado About Nothing running June 1-September 23 at BMO Mainstage at Vanier Park (1000 Chestnut Street)