Much Ado About Nothing
Orlando Shakes, Orlando, Florida
Carl F. Gauze
The war is over and no one important died, so it’s Party Time! Don Pedro (Rodney Lizcano) and his crew travel to the house of Leonato (Paul Bernardo) to celebrate. Here the troops relax, enjoy a nice meal, and hook up with potential mates. There’s Claudio (K.P. Powell), he’s already conquered Hero (Connie Castanzo). But Benedick’s (Walter Kmiec) conquest of Beatrice (Trenell Mooring) is the tough road to take. She isn’t interested in marrying anyone, period. Beatrice stomps around in her mile-long braids; Benedick chases her like a disposed puppy. Naturally there’s a big party with masks allowing plenty of crossed wires, and a very funny set up where Don Pedro, Borachio (Johnathan Arvelo), and Antonio (Mark Edward Smith) arrange for Benedick to eavesdrop on them as he crawls through the scenery. Then, on the day of the wedding, Don John sets up Hero to look as if she’s untrue and break up her and Claudio.
That’s a LOT of plot, and I can’t swear I got it all correct. But let’s look at the positives here: there’s never a moment where the set stands still between the frequent use of the rotating stage and the floor lift. That lift has been there for years, but this season it’s getting a workout. The intrigue flows naturally, and the romance feels right even if Ms. Mooring becomes more and more strident. Benedick did some wonderful gymnastics in the eavesdropping scene. Late in the show we meet the best comic character of the show, the self-important constable Dogberry (Paul Vogt) and his collection of dimwitted policeman. Vogt made a commanding presence on stage and punctuated it with a whistle so loud it upset dogs two blocks away. This is what a real Shakespearean production needs: splendor, humor, romance, and best of all, great gags that deliver the laughs.