My review of The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth Productions’ Much Ado About Nothing for GetDown.ca
For any production of Much Ado About Nothing to be successful, the audience has to be rooting for Beatrice and Benedick. They have to be taken by the couple’s charm and buy into their chemistry. This is something that The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth Productions does well with their production of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, starring Myla Southward as Beatrice and Tyrell Crews as Benedick. Throw in talented cast members, a bright stage design and some creative twists along the way and you have a successful rendition of the Bard’s comedy.
The play tells of Don Pedro (Joel Cochrane) who is returning from a successful battle and is invited to stay at Leonato’s (Declan O’Reilly) place for the next couple months. He brings with him Count Claudio (Mihai Dan) and Benedick. Upon seeing Hero (Natasha Strickey) Leonato’s daughter, Claudio announces his intention to court her. Benedick wishes his friend well but vows to never marry, to which his companions are skeptical. Don Pedro’s brother Don John (Conrad Belau) has other plans for the couple and develops a scheme to disgrace Hero. He recruits Borachio (Roger LeBlanc) to put his plan into action. The cast also includes the hilarious Dogberry (Trevor Rueger), musical Margaret (Jesse Lynn Northan), the fierce Antonia (Deborah Ferguson), Ursula (Meg Fahall), Friar Francis (Myron Dearden) and Armin Karame as the Watch and Messenger.
The open set design in the round at the Studio at Vertigo Theatre allows for a creative playfulness in the production, especially in the scenes where Beatrice and Benedick are convinced of the other’s love. Patrick Du Wors’ set and lighting design gives the production a bit of breathing space to allow characters to lurk in the shadows. Rebecca Toon’s costume design is flattering and especially of note are the colours used in the clothing for the masquerade.
Director Jan Alexandra Smith has made some interesting decisions in the production. She has the conversation between Benedick and Beatrice be completely serious when Hero is disgraced and it makes for a different kind of poignancy. She also has Leonato’s anger at his daughter be quite dangerous, walking that line that this play does, between comedy and tragedy.
There are sparks and a current of desire that exists in Shakespeare’s script and also in the chemistry between Benedick and Beatrice. The sparring between this duo is a lot of fun to watch. Stickey’s Hero is equally as innocent and pure, while Rueger’s Dogberry is quirky in his hilarity.
This production of Much Ado About Nothing is merriment and joy.
The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth Productions’ presentation of Much Ado About Nothing runs until June 2nd. More information is available online.