There’s much ado about Quill Theatre’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’
Watching Shakespeare be performed is a gem in and of itself. It can be judged as unoriginal or drab, but seeing the actions and relationships from the time capsule of Shakespeare’s language, hundreds of years later, come to life is exhilarating. The same thing can be said for Quill Theatre’s production of Much Ado About Nothing – and most of my appreciation for it comes from this production’s fantastic immersion into the Elizabethan era.
Upon my arrival, I was met by a band of players telling the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in the courtyard. All of the entertainers were dressed head to toe in ambiguous Shakespearean garb – their Elizabethan collars complimenting the historic house/theatre, Agecroft Hall, where the production was performed.
While the band piped and fiddled and danced, performing songs and jest, I made my way around the house to check out the theatre space. Lodged into the side of the house, the outdoor stage helped set the atmosphere as open and jovial. And – as I would have done were I seeing the original performance of this play – I sat in the pit. Only this time I wasn’t surrounded by vagrants and vomit and piss – as it would have been at the globe (back in the day.)
I honestly had a great time watching the show. Dogberry (Joshua Daniels) greeted us at the start of the show reminding us to silence our cellphones and etcetera while his translators interpreted his Shakespearean text into laymen lingo. I never had an issue following the show – a usual concern for some when seeing Shakespeare – and I really became invested in some performances. Particularly those of Don Jon (Charley Raintree) and Beatrice (Donna Marie Miller) who stole the show.
From the instant Raintree was present on stage, your eyes were on him. Shifty, silent and drunk, he added a grim reality to the otherwise buoyant life of the play – but (and I don’t say this lightly) I really enjoyed hating him. His actions and words were so menacing, but his presence was humane and developed.
Miller definitely understood how to engage the audience with her speech, and how to actually invade the audience as well. She broached the stage with ease and delivered her lines with impeccable timing. I thought her funniest moment was when she was hiding to spy on some characters in the play by sitting in the audience and ducking behind viewers. There were some points in the show when I thought I was being performed for, but these actors made me feel as if I was being performed with!
Everyone in the ensemble did a marvelous job, and the play was never dull for an instant!
When the wind blew and the rainwater that lingered in the leaves fell on the audience, nobody left. They stayed and sat in their seats, wet and aggravated – not because they enjoy the displeasure, but because they were too engaged to leave.
If you see this play and are met with a torrential downpour, I hope that you too will be too engaged to leave. And I do hope you see this play, because there is nothing better than seeing theatre that’s worth talking about.
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