M Theatre Company presents the much admired romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing, for one more weekend, in the second floor “Bright Room” at the Staircase Theatre on Dundurn Street, for two final performances. The main dilemma, in the play, concerns a proud and stubborn couple, consisting of the Lady Beatrice, (here played by Liz Buchanan), and the soldier Benedick, (Brendan Green), and whether, or not, they will overcome their stubborn pride, overcome their witty prejudices, and admit their genuine love and affection for one another.
Shakespeare’s script, which was first performed circa 1598, has held the stage ever since, with several notable performers playing the leading roles, including David Garrick and Sarah Siddons, Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, John Gielgud & Margaret Leighton, and most recently at the Old Vic in London, James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave, as a couple whose loathing for each other, ultimately leads to love and marriage.
The play features several important sub–plots about a virtuous lady, Hero, (Miranda Cooper), who has her virtuous reputation slandered, by her misled fiancee, (Sebastian Magie’s “Claudio”), and finds herself, abandoned at the alter at her wedding, on the untruth that she has not been faithful. Talk about “slut–shaming” to the ultimate degree.
Also featured prominently is the story of a “bastard” prince “Don John”, here played by Mel Beale, that seeks revenge on his legitimate brother, Anthony Ighomuaye’s “Don Pedro”, but who gets his comeuppance in the end.
The best of the villains in the production was Greg Cruikshank’s “Borachio”, who evilly frames the virtuous and pure, Hero, with a seduction of the lady’s Chambermaid, Margaret. He swaggers about the stage relishing his evil machinations to the hilt. If he had a moustache, by God, he would have twirled it.
The comedy in this production, is mainly focused on the role of Dogsberry, here played in an over the top, histrionic performance by Joel Pettigrew, wearing a costume that is clearly inspired by the Keystone Cops. The verbal humour of the character, with his malapropisms, is well explored, with a “clown unit” of watchmen, egging him on.
David Faulkner — Rundle, has done an exceptional job in directing the production, keeping the pace lively and quick, and has mined some very fine performances out of his ensemble cast, which also included Rebekah Pullen, Aramenta Sobchak, and Luis Arrojo .There were no weak links in the company of twelve actors, playing multiple roles, many of whom seem to be new to the Hamilton area theatre scene.
The only critical note I have, would be about the complete absence of music in the production, which is full of songs and dancing in the original text. Weddings are meant to be celebrations, and a bit of period dancing might have added to the charm of this production. It need not have been period even some ’70s era disco tunes, would have done the trick, just as well. I like anachronistic elements in Shakespeare.
This production runs for two more performances, and I hear that the show has been selling well. Act quickly in order to get the chance to see it. V
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
9M Theatre, at the Bright Room, Staircase Theatre.
October 11 & 12 @ 7:30pm
Tickets: online at muchado9m.bpt.me
tix: (905) 522—7529