As Shakespearean plays go, Much Ado About Nothing stands as one of the audience’s favorites throughout the ages. As usual in the Bard’s comedies, the stage becomes an arena for the battle of the sexes, a duel that results in many moments of laughter and enjoyment, but also as an opportunity to peruse gender roles and sexuality. A new staging of Much Ado, co-produced by Jubilee and Raise the Stakes, premiered last Thursday at Theatre Ste. Catherine.
The story of romance, deception and the eventual triumph of love was cleverly put together under the direction of Anna Springate-Floch. Her conception of a play inspired by ornate wardrobe choices and tasteful flourishes was deftly carried away by the actors. The cast is diverse in terms of age, a detail that mirrors Shakespeare’s interest in inter-generational conflict for his comedies.
While the performances were all very good, your correspondent must confess to having a predilection for the characters of Benedick and Beatrice. This is, in part, due to the way the characters have been written, with their quirks, snappy dialogue and the unstable relationship between them. At the same time, however, the spirited performances of Katherine Turnbull and Matt Enos must also be credited for creating such a pleasant effect among the audience, especially when it comes to the delivery of repartee throughout the play; the entertainingly caustic way in which they throw verbal projectiles at each other is equally matched by the disarmingly awkward way in which they confess their mutual love.
Another enjoyable surprise came through the musical interventions of Balthasar, played by André Simoneau. Accompanied by his guitar and a pleasant voice, the singer performed during critical moments of the plot and brought a romantic (but not cheesy) atmosphere with him.
At times, the actors tripped themselves with some of the more convoluted lines of the play. Yet this was managed with grace and even produced some sympathy from the audience. This is inevitable in a play that combines seasoned actors with up-and-coming performers. These minor bleeps were brushed aside and the play moved briskly throughout its five acts.
William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing takes place November 6-8 at Théâtre Ste Catherine (264 St Catherine)at 8 p.m. and November 8-9 at 2 p.m. $15/18.