To my mind, the very good things reviewer Doris Lynch has to say about our comic production of Much Ado about Nothing are pretty spot on. Many in our audience would agree. We’ve already had people return to see the show, which opened last Friday (July 5), because they enjoyed it so much and wanted to see it again. Ms. Lynch also provides a concise plot summary of the comedy, in case you’re unfamiliar with the play.
As usual, we thank The Herald-Times for permission to reproduce the original review, which may be read by clicking here.
‘MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING’ Theater review: Much ado about marriage — Indiana Festival Theatre does one by the Bard
Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 12:00 am
One wonders whether Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife — eight years his senior — was as quick-witted as some of his heroines, particularly “Much Ado’s” Beatrice. Saucy, impertinent and wildly clever, Andrea Mellos is a joy to watch in this role.
If you like your Shakespeare droll, fresh and brimming with feisty characters, you’ll enjoy this production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” directed by Jonathan Michaelsen. A company of gentleman warriors, returning from the wars, marches into Messina, Sicily. Pounding drums, they celebrate fighting’s end. Now they can turn their energies to other things, for example, marriage. But alas Benedick, a lord from Padua, vociferously rails against the institution and swears he will never enter such a union. With wit, charm, engaging asides, and a wild dash through the audience, Grant Goodman gives a masterful portrayal of a jokester who utters language that offers conflicting meanings at once.
As in “The Taming of the Shrew” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” one couple in love is not enough, there must be at least two or three. Claudio (Nicholas Bailey) falls first for the lovely Hero (Emily Harpe), but their 10-day engagement gives plenty of time for malevolent mischief to occur.
Leonato (Ken Ferrell), the elderly patrician whose estate the soldiers visit, joins forces with the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, (Benjamin W. Abbott) and Claudio to convince the word-spinning Benedick that Beatrice is madly in love with him. Leonato assumes that both these hard-to-match young people might fall in love if convinced that the other person is already smitten. Look out theater’s fourth wall. Goodman slithers across the stage, then crawls over laps down an aisle, even enlisting an audience member to serve as a moving screen.
Mellos elicits a lot of laughs in a similar scene when Hero and Ursula (Evelyn Gaynor) loudly allude to how much Benedick loves Beatrice.
But there’s more here than matchmaking.Before long Don John, Pedro’s jealous brother, cooks up a plot to stop the marriage of Hero and Claudio. Adam St. John conveys well the mean-spiritedness of a jealous man, eager to wreck his brother’s future. Also showing a villainous streak is Borachio. Grant Niezgodski plays him tipsy in his cups and later fiercely defending the honor of a gentlewoman.
In the second act an almost Monty Pythonian trial of slanderers takes place. As the bard so often does, he interweaves scenes of rural people speaking earthly language with those featuring nobles. And what an amusing, earnest bumpkin Tim Pyles makes playing Constable Dogberry in his ridiculous navel-revealing jacket. Marching alongside him in square-cornered meticulous fashion is Verges, his horn-carrying deputy (Josh Krause). Dogberry examines the accused and in a flurry of big words used inappropriately proclaims the results. This creates more hilarity.
All the cast members do a fine job, especially with timing, so important when performing Shakespeare.
In smaller roles, Mara Lefler makes an entrancing gentlewoman Margaret, and Jenny McKnight shows passion and defiance as she defends her niece, Hero.
A large hanging swing graces the stage. Andrea Ball’s scenic design also includes a country house with tiled roof and twined tree with the requisite upper floor window for wooing and watching.
Katie Cowan Sickmeier’s lovely empire-waist dresses and blue military uniforms dazzle.
This marvelous production will transport you to a distant time and place and provide a good share of belly laughs. Don’t miss it.
If you go:
WHO: Indiana Festival Theatre.
WHAT: “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare.
WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday and July 16, 18, 20, 24, 26; 2 p.m. July 21 and 27.
TICKETS: $15-$25. Call 812-855-1103 go online at www.theatre.indiana.edu.
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