Director and Adaptor of Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare on the Cape/Provincetown Theater, 2007 Season.
"Much Ado” a Must-See
By Rebecca M. Alvin
The Cape Codder
GateHouse News Service
Thu Jul 26, 2007, 02:07 PM EDT
Provincetown, MA - It may be more than 400 years old, but Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is still a crowd-pleaser. The bard’s comedy lends itself to broad performances, and Shakespeare on the Cape takes this cue in its current production at the Provincetown Theater, adapted and directed by Elisa Carlson. Aside from the hilariously over-the-top portrayals of some secondary characters, there are a number of more subtle, nuanced performances.
The story of “Much Ado” centers on the pending wedding of Claudio (Elliot Eustis) and Hero (Elizabeth Stahlmann). Amid the preparations, Claudio and Don Pedro’s (Eric Powell Holm) friend Benedick (Jack Matheson) and Hero’s cousin Beatrice (Whitney Hudson), clearly in love with one another, engage in verbal attacks on one another to hide their feelings. Knowing this, their friends conspire to bring the two together by manipulating each to think the other is more in love. At the same time, another more sinister plot evolves when Don Pedro’s brother Don John (Ben Griessmeyer) hatches a scheme to prevent the marriage of Claudio to Hero by planting a disturbing rumor about the latter’s faithfulness.
One of the challenges with a play of this age is to make it relatable to a contemporary audience without changing the original language. Whitney Hudson is particularly adept at solving this challenge in her portrayal of the spirited Beatrice. Her delivery is so natural that rather than having to change the text to fit our modern ears, it actually transforms us so that we find the text as up-to-date as any new play.
Hudson is not alone in her clear understanding of her role. Holm also turns in a very natural performance as Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon, as do Matheson as Benedick, Eustis as Claudio, and Griessmeyer as Don John. Amanda Fuller, playing Hero’s mother Leonata, also demonstrates considerable skill in a role that calls for a wide range of emotion. Stahlmann is also very good in the smaller role as Hero and Tessa K. Bry adds to the overall production in her role as Balthasar, strumming her guitar quietly throughout and treating us to her lovely voice on occasion.
Hudson and Griessmeyer also portray the local police in town, Dogberry and Verges, respectively. Here, any subtlety they achieve in their main roles is cast aside in favor of broad comic interpretations of the two characters. Hudson adds a nice touch, speaking her lines with a Midwestern accent, and both generate a lot of laughs when they interact with the audience directly.
“Much Ado About Nothing” is a wonderfully entertaining play and in the hands of Shakespeare on the Cape, it is bound to be wildly popular with audiences of all stripes.
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