My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
A single man and a single woman, both sworn off marriage and scathingly critical of the opposite sex and one another, are manipulated by their friends into realising and then admitting they really do love one another. Sounds like the synopsis for the latest Hollywood rom-com. But it's not. It's the extremely witty, always funny and still relatable after over 400 years, Much Ado About Nothing by the inimitable William Shakespeare.
The QTC produced version, now playing at QPAC's Playhouse is nothing short of joyful, laugh out loud fun. Director Jason Klarwein has the actors delivering lines with an appropriately farcical performance style that really supports the language and wit of this beloved Shakespearean comedy. It was delightful to see the performers really commit to the genre and take some fantastic risks with their facial expressions and gesticulations.
There were some hilarious moments of slapstick throughout, but fans of clever use of language, puns, and metaphors (my favourite being "She speaks daggers, and every word stabs.") won't be let down either. So whether you like physical comedy or lingual amusements, you're going to enjoy this production.
This would have to be Shakespeare's cleverest comedy in this reviewer's opinion. And don't for a second make the mistake of thinking that because the language is different to our modern vernacular, or that because the play was written over 400 years ago, that it won't be relatable and you won't be able to understand it. Themes of love, lust, slut-shaming, pride, patriarchy, commitment, and independence ring just as true for modern viewers as they would have for audiences in 1598.
Composer Gordon Hamilton has found some lovely ways to enchant us with three fun musical numbers which got last night's crowd toe tapping and applauding enthusiastically. The set and revolving stage were wonderfully designed by Richard Roberts and used to great effect by the cast and director. But super special, gold star, A plus, go to the head of the class, you are my new teacher's pet type praise must be heaped upon Ben Hughes for the lighting design. There's not enough hyperbole in the world to do his work justice; the thunderstorm, the moon, the slow and perfect transition from day to twilight were just some of the outstanding moments Mr. Hughes gave us.
You really can't fault any member of the cast, as everyone was committed to delivering the best they could offer. Special mentions to Liz Buchanan for an hilariously on point portrayal of Dogberry, Bryan Proberts' playing Leonarto to perfection, but most of all Hugh Parker's amazing work as Benedick. Having said that, it feels wrong not to mention Christen O'Leary's energetic and passionate Beatrice or Kathryn Mcintyre's Margaret, but as all the cast delivered stellar work, if one were to continue in this fashion, this article would just wind up being a list of names and compliments.
If you've never read or seen any Shakespeare before, Much Ado About Nothing is a great introduction to the bard. Lovers of his plays and those who've never read a line of iambic pentameter in their lives will equally enjoy this hilarious production, playing until May 15th.