Press release:I had never read/seen Much Ado before, so I figured since I’m not keen on Kenneth Branagh that I would jump on this opportunity. To nobody’s surprise, I learned that I do not like this play. [Clarification: I saw Much Ado today. And since the play is pain, I do not expect to be seeing the remix next weekend, though I admit to being tempted.]
The Norwood High School drama program will perform two versions of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing over the next two weeks at the Savage Center. The original play, transplanted to the rock club world of an 80's teen movie, complete with Pac Man, Rubik’s Cubes, great music, and bad haircuts, will be performed [snip]. Shakespeare’s classic comedy of loves, lies, and the “merry war” between men and women features the quarreling Beatrice and Benedict, the noble Don Pedro, young lovers Claudio and Hero, and the deceitful Don John in a fun-filled night of Shakespeare and swatches.
The local thespians will also perform John Quinn’s contemporary original adaptation of the play, Love Hurts, at [snip], also at the Savage Center. Set at Messina Prep in rural Massachusetts, the play explores the biting rivalry of the witty and beautiful Beatrice and her comic nemesis Benedict. The malicious pranks of the evil Don John and the dangerous matchmaking of his half-brother, the charming and popular Don Pedro, and his accomplices disturb the harmony of the school in this offbeat slapstick romantic comedy.
The production itself was fairly good. Low-budget set and costumes, as to be expected, but not distracting. Pre-show music included “The Metro” by Berlin, which made me happy. People talked so fast that it was hard to catch everything (since Shakespeare isn’t exactly the English we’re used to) but since we are so unused to the language, I wonder if pushing through it and just getting carried along by it really is the best way to do it. Certainly the plot of Much Ado is Bam, Bam, Bam, successive plot points interspersed with banter.
Benedick was short (played by Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast). I thought of my dad’s theory that so many of the guys who act out in classes are short because they’re overcompensating and thought how amusing it would be if Shakespeare originally had in mind some short guy for Benedick or some similar character. (He shows up in a Spiderman costume at the costume revel, which is tres amusing. And the revel itself has much Rocky Horror music, which is great.)
All the falling in love? Reminded me of As You Like It. This is not a good thing.
So much physical comedy early in the play (Benedick scrambling under tables when people are talking about how Beatrice is in love with comes immediately to mind) and I actually enjoy it. (They also have Beatrice hiding in the garbage when she overhears her people talking about Benedick being in love with her, and after they leave and she soliloquies, she noshes on a banana she’s plucked out of the garbage. I was tres amused.)
URSULA: When are you married, madam?
HERO: Why, every day, to-morrow.
-Act 3, Scene 1
I was so confused by the “every day.” I was like, “Are you and Claudio sleeping together?”
BENEDICK: Come, bid me do any thing for thee.
BEATRICE: Kill Claudio.
-Act 4, Scene 1
I actually hadn’t caught Benedick’s line, so Beatrice’s “Kill Claudio” was particularly jarring. And the stage went silent and yeah, it was powerful.
BENEDICK: Is Claudio thine enemy?
BEATRICE: Is he not approved in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they come to take hands; and then, with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour, --O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.
-Act 4, Scene 1
That last sentence is one of the Beatrice lines I’d heard a lot from Emma. I’ve gotta say, I’m not really sold on Beatrice’s mad love for her cousin, so her raging against Claudio wasn’t really doing it for me.
Then we had a brief intermission -- in between scenes 1 and 2 of Act 4.
The constable had a short purple wig and hot black boots. I was pleased.
So, Lenato tells Claudio and the Prince that Hero is dead, they go outside, Benedick comes over, and they start jesting with him. This seems so bizarre to me.
BEATRICE: Will you go hear this news, signior?
BENEDICK: I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle's.
-Act 5, Scene 2
I love that line -- Benedick going on and on and then finally answering her question that yes, he will go with her like next door.
For the funeral, they had Hero laying on three chairs (yeah cheap sets) and lots of physical comedy, but the whole funeral thing reminded me of that scene in Empire Records [mostly because sharpest_rose mentioned it recently].
And we end with a rousing rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.