SHOWING : August 18, 2004 - September 26, 2004
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
It's the eternal war of the sexes ad Benedick and Beatrice have at it. Sub-Plots and Schemes build to a comic climax of sound and fury that, well, you get the idea ....
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
Dedalus was Being Kind|
|by Sweet Babboo
Saturday, August 28, 2004 ||
I thought that this production crashed and burned five minutes after takeoff. A gorgeous set and pretty costumes can only hold my attention for two minutes. With some actors stumbling over their lines and others spitting them out incoherantly, it was impossible for me to be charmed by this production. And this is my all-time favorite Shakespeare comedy. I came in wanting to love everything about it and ended up walking out during intermission, extremely disappointed instead. Which, considering that I usually find the work done at Theatre in the Square and by Ms. Phelps-West to be exceptional in other plays, was not what I had expected to do at all. I will walk out on a play only if it truly is a waste of my time.|
Believe me, this turkey was.
I won't name names and rant about how completely miscast some of the principals were. That's not fair or right. I've seen these actors do fine work in other plays. It's just that as an ensemble group, these people didn't click together and had the chemistry of a pot of soggy noodles. If you don't have a dynamic group of actors bringing this often absurd comedy to life with humor, charm and depth then you might as well call it a day. I can (sometimes) accept this from a community theatre company who stages Shakespeare with an eneven level of talent pool to work with. But when a company who prides themselves on casting the best professional actors in the city, then I just have to throw up my hands in defeat.
John Ammerman was the sole acception. His Benedict was witty, captivating and insightful and the only pleasure to watch that evening. I'm sorry that I didn't stick around long enough to watch him in Act II...Almost.
If I must pick on one thing in particular, it should be the awkward and amateurish staging. Too many scenes had actors remaining stationary for too long in kick lines. That's a major pet peeve of mine. And the overkill of bad Three Stooges/Marx Brothers schtick at the end of Act One was the kiss of death for me. I agree with Dedalus on every point he made about the "tricking" of Beatrice & Benedict scene at the end of Act One. To be blunt, it was jaw-droppingly bad. I had to leave after that. I couldn't take it anymore.
And maybe I'm reading more into this than it probably is, but for the most part, the actors onstage didn't look like they were having any fun performing in this show. Now if the actors aren't enjoying themselves up on stage, why should the audience do so? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || my take on this by RobRoy|
| I saw this opening weekend and I do not think it is the greatest version of Much Ado I have seen, but I definitely did not feel like walking out half way through the show. I agree, Ammerman's Benedick was the highlight of the show but I thought Rosemary Newcott's performance should be applauded as well. I have to agree with your "3 Stooges" analogy. It turned me off a little, but I still must admit, I enjoyed this production for what it was. I definitely do not think it was Jessica Phelps' best directing because i have seen other productions of hers that were works of art. All in all, not Theatre in the Square's greatest show, but definitely not the worst (I won't mention names of those productions).|
Too Much Ado|
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 ||
There is a very thin line between “Schtick” and comic invention. To my mind, that line is crossed when a piece of comic business violates the sense of the character and the scene. One of the classic “Schticks” is to have someone, who is trying to be hidden, suddenly pretend to be a statue or a tree in order to remain hidden. If done with finesse, it can be very funny – but it also speaks volumes about the senses and natures of the characters involved.|
In Theatre-in-the-Square’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” the plot has Hero and her lady-in-waiting “set up” Beatrice by talking about how much Benedick loves her. Beatrice, who, by script as well as tradition, is an exceptionally witty, intelligent, and perceptive character, suddenly decides that pretending to be a statue over and over and over in a small courtyard without too many hiding places would keep the others from knowing she’s there. Not to put too fine a point on it, this was the most egregiously stupid, unfunny, pointless and painful scenes I’ve seen in a long time. What were they thinking? Would we suddenly forget Beatrice is supposed to be smart while we laugh at Hero putting Oranges down her dress? Would we think that Beatrice thinks Hero is so blind with love she doesn’t notice her cavorting around? Would we finally stop wondering why Leonato has potted Orange Trees around his courtyard when there’s probably a whole orchard of them behind his villa? These are things that were obviously included to create schtick – business that comes not from character, situation, and dialog, but from a director who does not trust her cast to make the comic points.
Sadly, that may have been the case, as this cast did not gel – I’ve seen most of them before, and they’re all capable of much better work. Only John Ammerman’s Benedick soared – this was one of the best Benedick’s I’ve seen – he could get a laugh just by clearing his throat. On the other, Beatrice was overplayed – what at first seemed to be the characters wittiness and joy, eventually became the actress’s desperate mugging, culminating in that deadly “Noting” scene. And, when the opportunity for anger and depth came, she just turned shrill. Leonato started the play struggling for lines, so when his “Noting” scene came (in which he carried a script), we weren’t sure if it was the character with a crib sheet or the actor. Hero and Claudio were competent and clear, but they generated no heat whatsoever – it was a case of “I love this person because the script says I must.” And the Dogberry scenes fell completely flat – Dogberry droned his lines in an American accent that underplayed the delicious wordplay and spoonerisms, and his “minions” spoke in monotonous Italian accents that remained fairly unintelligible – their scenes had no energy and no joy.
So, if I hated this production this much, why do I give it two stars? To be honest, it’s one of my all-time favorite Shakespeares, Mr. Ammerman carried the show through a lot of low spots (Gary Yates as Don John was also very good). The set (an early 20th-century Italian courtyard with running fountain) worked for the most part (other than not providing enough hiding places for the “Noting” scenes). Even the orange trees worked until the staging required the actors to carry them around, drawing attention to the fact that they were potted.
The lighting, unfortunately, was borderline incompetent – there were numerous shadows inconsistent with the setting, time-of-day presets inconsistent with the script, and, during the wedding scene, daylight gobos which were distracting for being focused off the action – they created shadows where shadows should not have been.
Yes, I was a little hard on this production. But the truth is, I’ve seen worse (I’ve been in worse) and, perhaps I’m making too much ado about that awful “Noting” scene. What do you think?
-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || try to be a little less "humbug"..... by feather|
| a little less "humbug"|
**before i write anything i am a frequent patron of the arts and my family acts out.>>>
i get a feeling that you are a regular at theatre in square or possibly at other semi-pro theaters. it seems to me, if i remember right, you're a decent actor but now you are quite the reviewer. let me ask you this. sometimes you give bad reviews like a 2. and then you give other reviews a 4 ??? and now rating "much ado" with a 2, after you say yourself you've seen many of these actors before and they have a lot of talent...why? and a show by The Bard gets a 2? it sounds though you may have directed a show or are acting in semi-pro shows yourself these days and maybe are trying to teach us something but this is not the olympics. if you give one show a 4, come on and give all shows a 4. anything less hurts our feelings. and this is what theaterreview should be all about. protecting the feelings of people in a show. and their groupies too. so next time, try to be a little less "humbug".....
| || Help Me Out, Feather by Dedalus|
| This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but was it Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain who wrote "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?" I ask only because I've been thinking of self-esteem a lot these days, and you seem to have time on your hands ... :-)|
| || Thank you Brad... by JasonMeinhardt|
| Very witty, sir. Evidently noone is "safe" from feather. :) |
| || Are Feather and Halomaker the same person? by th8rluvr|
| I only ask because after reading Feather's comment on this - I thought it was a liitle close to a post on Forever Plaid. Or maybe I am dense and am not getting the sarcasm... help me out...|
| || by andy|
| your not dense, but no you are not getting the sarcasm, they are not the same person|
| || Feather is not Halomaker by Halomaker89|
| Feather started with Alice in Wonderland, in which my daughter was the Cheshire Cat and this was directed by Jason and he took sections of a review from Heather. Now, he took some of my comments I made about M Rydz's review on "Forever Plaid" and changed them to fit his needs in this one.|
My daughter and I belive we know who this is, he is in High School. He is also trying to make my daughter, who does the tech for Foreverplaid, look bad, too. He has done some very damaging things to my family and if I find out for sure he will have to deal with me and his parents. Please call me, feather you no my number? What have we done to you? I will not be posting on comments after this because he thrives on this. But I wish he would talk to my face or talk to my daughter. He/feather definatley needs to appoligize to her and "andi". I feel like he is stalking us. So again, in answering your question NO Halomaker89 and Feather are not the same people/posters. I post with Halomaker89 but my name is Jeri Goodfellow.
[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]
by David Shire (music), Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics)