MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare, directed by Lada Darewych (Canopy). At Philosopher's Stage (80 Queen's Park). To August 4. Pwyc-$10. 416-978-8849. Rating: NN
There's not much to make ado about in Canopy's production of Much Ado About Nothing . It's great to have an accessible production of Shakespeare's witty comedy, one that clearly wants to engage an audience, but director Lada Darewych has infused little fun into the outdoor show.
At the centre of the story is the sparring between Beatrice and Benedick, two sharp-tongued adversaries who you just know are going to end up together at the final curtain. But there's serious as well as comic material here, with the evil Don John plotting to end the happiness of young lovers Claudio and Hero.
Don John is usually a cardboard villain, but David Tripp gives him a solid core and a blunt power. Simon Michellepis as Don Pedro knows how to present the text clearly, and Carly Chamberlain 's Margaret has a nice energy; too bad she has so little to do.
Many of the other performers speak the words but don't convincingly portray emotionally believable characters. Too often Darewych goes for broad, hammy humour, and it's usually not funny.
You can't do a good Much Ado without a well-matched Beatrice and Benedick. Andrea Wasserman has a light voice that varies little, and her wit rarely bites; she pulls faces rather than suggesting feeling.
I wish she were a better foil for Byron Rouse 's Benedick, the strongest actor onstage and one who knows how to play the audience. Rouse handles his lines with real subtlety, smoothly spinning out both verse and prose and making Benedick's change from confirmed bachelor to ardent lover a fully realized one.