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Much Ado About Nothing

October 24, 2012

How does one go about reviewing a Shakespearean play?  I don’t think it’s possible to do a well preformed Shakespearean play justice.  This rendition at Zombie Joe’s Underground was well preformed and more.

Watching this play I am reminded of why I both hate and love the Bard.  Multiple plot lines, verse that both draws you in and confuses you at the same time.  Monologues spoken so fast and with such articulation you wonder how the performer does not become confused themselves.  I haven’t seen one of Shakespeare’s plays in ages and I’m glad this was my re-introduction to his works.

For those of you who don’t know the story Much Ado About Nothing shows how two completely different couples approach love.  Claudio(Philip Rodriguez), and Hero(Stefanie Ogden) are young lovers so infatuated with each other they can hardly speak to show their affections.  Benedick(Amir Khalighi) and Beatrice(Jennifer Kenyon) are more seasoned individuals and have grown fond of each other through their battles of wit.  Here is where we see the difference between old and young love.  Claudio and Hero are young, and impetuous quick to fall in love, and easy to be deceived which can and does lead to disaster.  His naiveté taken advantage of Claudio is tricked into thinking Hero is not a maiden and has cheated on him the night before their wedding.  The love that develops between older persons is slower and has many obstacles to overcome including ego, and stubbornness.  Once that love is expressed though anything will be done to maintain it, even challenging a close friend to a dual.

While the story focuses on Benedick and Beatrice.  Two persons both keen of wit but so stubborn they must be tricked into falling in love for their egos would never have them admit to others or themselves that they have feelings for their verbal sparring partner.  In order to trick them into falling in love their friends will go about noting, or gossiping.  Letting each one over hear gossip that the other secretly loves them.  Upon hearing the gossip Benedick and Beatrice each launch into complex monologues that makes this performance shine.  I found myself pulled into their monologues, not just through the complexity and speed with which they were delivered, but their individual renditions as well.  I felt like I was experiencing the anguish they were going through upon finding out after a lifetime of loneliness they might have a match, a secret love.  Better still a secret love whose wit matches their own blow for blow retort for retort.

Just as Benedick and Beatrice fall in love Claudio falls out of love.  The victim of a horrible act of trickery.  Don John(J. Van Auken) through use of his cats paws has tricked Claudio into thinking Hero is not a maiden and has cheated on him the night before their wedding.  It’s here that we see the immaturity of young love verses the maturity of old love.  Claudio is quick to believe the worst of Hero, while Benedick not wanting to lose his love is willing to challenge his good friend Claudio to a dual on behalf of Beatrice.

Fortunately for all involved the local captain of the watch and fool Dogberry(Nicholas Thurkettle) arrests Don John’s fellow conspirator Borachio(Marc Lindquist) and takes down his confession.  Dogberry delivers this confession to those involved in time to stop the dual.  As the story draws to a close Benedick and Beatrice must once again be forced into admitting their feelings, after all old love is slow to change.  Once all is on the table the party celebrates the double weddings of Claudio/Hero and Benedick/Beatrice.

Looking back I feel I haven’t spoken of the villains or the fool enough.  Not only were the villains well played, but the technical aspect was moving as well.  The lighting change, the background music sold the look and feel of Don John and Borachio as villains.  They weren’t villains for the sake of villainy though.  You really got the sense that they were rotten to the core.  A feeling of dread followed them around the stage even when they made merry with the others.  Dogberry, is an excellent fool as well.  He knows his place in the world but seeks to rise above it.  He is held back not only by his station but his foolery as well.  What’s better he doesn’t know he is the fool.  His actions while they seem rational are carried out in a bumbling fashion and it’s through the reactions of the other characters that we see him for how he truly is.  I only like a well written and well played fool, and I liked this Dogberry.  A fool is only a fool when the fool doesn’t know their place as a fool.  Dogberry fits that to the letter.

There isn’t much more I can say about this performance other than it was amazing.  Zombie Joe’s Underground knows how to put on Shakespeare with all its complexity.  Even though I knew the story I was on the edge of my seat the entire time waiting for more and hoping it wouldn’t end.  If you’ve never seen a Shakespearian play before go see one at Zombie Joe’s Underground.  If you’ve seen Shakespeare before go see a performance at ZJU, you are bound to take away something new.

Much Ado About Nothing runs Sundays 7pm October 14h through December 2

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