MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare (Shakespeare in the Rough). For details, see listings, this page. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing isn't all laughs, as director Michael Waller recognizes in his outdoor production for Shakespeare in the Rough. The opening repartee between Beatrice and Benedick - a squabbling couple who ultimately acknowledge that they do indeed love each other - yields to a serious tone partway through the piece, though there's a traditional happy ending.
Waller updates the piece to the Riviera in the 40s, with characters who quaff martinis, and do the bunny hop and the conga. The town watch, led by Amanda Parsons 's broad and crowd-pleasing Dogberry, turns into a lifeguard-ish beach patrol.
Much Ado requires an engaging central couple. Happily, the chemistry between Tracey Ferencz and Hume Baugh ignites the production. Despite constant jibes, the two characters can never stop talking about each other. They dish out flirtatious wit-play, but we also see touches of sadness underlying Beatrice's sunny disposition and Benedick's impassioned devotion once he's given his heart.
The rest of the cast is winning, too. There's Richard Alan Campbell 's solid Don Pedro; Michelle Polak 's sour troublemaker, Don John; Andrew Moodie 's villainous yet charming underling, Borachio; Sharmila Dey 's touching Hero; and Jeff Gruich 's easily jealous Claudio.
This Much Ado, charming and likable, is definitely something.