Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Much Ado About Nothing"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"Much Ado About Nothing"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Diego Arciniegas

Set Design by Janie Howland
Lighting design by Nathaniel Packard
Properties by John Kathryn Pierce
Costume by Design by Gail Buckley
Sound Design by Astan Gurczak
Stage Manager Valerie Hilton

Don Pedro................................Nathasn Blew
Don John................................William Church
Claudio.....................................Rollin Carlson
Benedick.............................Robert Pemberton
Leonato.................................Steve Barkhimer
Antonio/Sexton...............................Bill Salem
Friar Francis...............................James Bodge
Balthasar.................................Nathaniel Scott
Conrad.................................Diego Arciniegas
Borrachio.............................Gerardo Franklin
Dogberry..............................Nancy E. Carroll
Verges..................................Stephen Falcone
Hugh Oatcake..................Nathaniel McIntyre
Francis Seacole/A Boy.........Charles Linshaw
Hero.........................................Stacy Fischer
Beatrice...............................Sarah Newhouse
Margaret............................Stephanie Dorian
Ursula................................Helen MacElwain

Yesterday (28 June) I proved that if you took the 7:05 trip on the #86 bus, got off at Everett Street, and walked the one long block to Soldiers Field Road, you could arrive at The Publick Theatre only 23 or so minutes AFTER the show began at 7 p m.
So this mini-review asks the very important question: Should anyone pay any attention to an opinion (however positive it happens to be) from a reviewer so dumb he didn't even check the curtain time and thus saw only the last two-thirds of the play?
You decide.

First of all, this is a fine cast all of whom did their homework, and they handle the long lyrical language effortlessly and meaningfully. At a point late in the play Stephanie Dorian as Margaret has some rattling-good sallies with Sarah Newhouse's Beatrice about love and men in general and Benedick in particular. She takes them at express speed --- Beatrice being by then near silent with love and with worry over her wronged cousin Hero --- and yet the crackling-good wit is clear. The dire situation of poor Hero (accused as a prostitute by her groom on their very wedding-day!) is just as clearly and angrily, bewilderingly dealt with here. Jim Bodge's ringing voice of sanity in these scenes is particularly telling.

The disdainful lovers, it seemed to me, were so much in love with their own wit that the other could love (i.e. agree with the self-admiration) was accepted immediately. Robert Pemberton and Sarah Newhouse apparently started the show somewhat in on the joke --- and I'll bet in their initial sallies (which I missed, damn it) Beatrice scored hit after hit. It's written that way, but the gusto with which Pemberton postures makes the perfect foil, an ego ripe for puncture.

My one complaint would be that during the masked ball taking place just as I sat down, the music on the loudspeaker sound system made half the lines inaudible, even from a third row seat. It seemed to have only two modes: much too loud and much too soft.

But the beleaguered Publick Theatre is indeed a phoenix risen from senselessly destructive vandalism, its proud head raised defiantly into the Charlesbank sky, the tatters of its poverty worn as proudly as cloth of gold, and its sense of comedy as pure and full-throated as though rolling in greenbacks. And skies have been clear and audiences full and fully engaged and satisfied. Even the hot humidity abated for my night with them, suggesting that somewhere, Thespis smiles on this unsinkable company of actors. And so do I.

Love,
===Anon.


"Much Ado About Nothing" (14 June - 8 July)
PUBLICK THEATRE
Christian Herter Park, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 782-5425


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