Friday, December 10, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespeare play. Oddly enough, Much Ado About Nothing is one of only two Shakespearean comedies that I like, although I like many of the tragedies (Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth). I have seen five versions of it now, including the movie, and there is something so charming about the play (although only three of the versions, not including the movie, were any good).
Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Shakespeare Library)
Last night, I saw a version starring Helen Hunt, which was musically organized by Lyle Lovett. Oddly enough, Lyle Lovett was sitting directly behind me as I tried not to cough too much during the show. Sean and Sara Watkins from Nickle Creek played the music that Lovett wrote to add a bluegrass twang to the Shakepeare. There was an article in the LA Times.

Overall, I thought the production was cute. The music was great. The setting in California wine country was a lovely new twist. The male cast was fabulous. My least favorite of them was Claudio. I do not believe I've ever seen a Claudio I particularly liked (the closest was in the Saskatoon production I saw), but I think that is more the stilted writing of an earnest character rather than the fault of the acting. The female cast was not quite as strong as the male cast, I am sorry to say. Helen Hunt generally did a nice job and I enjoyed her acting, but I thought she lacked a little bit of the fire of the ideal Beatrice. On the other hand, the colder, cooler Beatrice is a valid interpretation of the character. The rest of the female half of the cast was fine, but the male half outshone them in my mind.

I love Much Ado About Nothing because of the wordplay and the bickering of the lead characters. This production nicely rendered the spates between Beatrice and Benedick, and the music provided a lovely background to the frivolous and fun comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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