Much Ado About Nothing
nytheatre.com review by Leslie Bramm
March 10, 2012
Boomerang Theatre Company is known for presenting quality Shakespeare to the Indie Theatre community. Their current production of the Bard’s romantic comedy is fast, brash, and loud.
Fast talking Benedick and Beatrice dislike the idea of marriage and each other, while Claudio and Hero, naïve lovers head over heels for each other, stand in contrast to the cynical outlook on love and betrothal. Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, while a malicious rumor about Hero’s virtue, or lack thereof , is more than poor Claudio can bear. Being the chump he is, he chooses to believe the gossip and calls Hero out at the alter, and refuses to marry her. Don John is the villain and for spiteful reasons has spread this rumor. Enter the bantering Dogberry who sees through the treachery and brings Don John to justice. The truth is revealed, broken hearts are healed, and both couples are married.
Directed by Daniel Talbott the play is a fast two hours and the stage is seldom quiet or absent mayhem. Like opera where the singers can’t be emotionally “real”, because it interferes with the singing, Shakespeare’s plays must be staged in such a way that the language is not lost in the chaos. There were times in this production, however, that the stomping, screaming, and music made it difficult to hear and comprehend the text. The actors also improvised some bits, and at times were spot on, and at times fell flat and struck out. Acting Shakespeare is difficult for many young actors, and while there are some false notes the entire ensemble is energetic and keeps the play lively.
A stand out performance is given by Sara Thigpen as Beatrice. I’ve seen Thigpen do Shakespeare before and her ability to handle the language in both a dramatic and comedic context are that of someone well versed in the Bard's work. James Leighton’s Claudio is stumbling and frustrating in a good way. Amelia Pedlow is guilless and genuinely wounded as the falsely accused Hero. Spencer Aste’s Dogberry is a jack n’ apes and charming at the same time.
Set and light design by Nikki Black and Kia Rodgers are terrific. Costumes by Carolyn Pallister are also effective save for a couple of unflattering dresses.
Kudos as always to Boomerang for helping usher in a new generation of hipster; for many Shakespeare is merely Cliff notes, Boomerang makes the Bard accessible and exciting.