Theatre Review: Much Ado About Nothing

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, July 30, 2009
(Music: Glenn Miller, An Angel In A Furnished Room)

Shakespeare’s script describes good-looking soldiers returning from wartime victory, and falling in love with girls who’ve been waiting for them. So setting the play right after World War II feels instinctively right. The 1940s were also an era when feisty females matched wits with leading men in Hollywood’s great romantic comedies – as do Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedick, who are sharp of wit, yet marked for romance

Benedick: “What, my dear Lady Disdain? Are you yet living?

Beatrice: “Is it possible that Disdain should die while she have such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick. Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain if you come in her presence.

Benedick: “Then is courtesy a turncoat."

Such verbal fireworks alternate with momentary heartbreak, like the inexperienced lover Claudio, who becomes convinced that his adored fiancé Hero has been unfaithful.
Claudio: “Oh Hero, what a hero hadst though been if half thy outward graces had been placed about the thoughts and counsels of thy heart. But fare thee well.”
Happily, sadness evaporates like raindrops after a summer shower in this perky production, which is like a freight train bound toward a sweet ending. And the inclusion of big band tunes and dancing is part of the charm.  It’s a striking contrast to the morally ambiguous doings in Tahoe Shakespeare’s other show this summer, the dark comedy “Measure for Measure.” Taken together, these two shows make an intriguing yet complimentary pair – a savvy piece of programming on the Festival’s part.

"Much Ado About Nothing" continues at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival through August 23rd.