I just found this post I’d written and not posted. It’s a quickie about a stage production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Coronado Playhouse back in July.
The Coronado Playhouse has a tradition of putting on a free show every summer, usually Shakespeare. It’s funded by a grant from the City of Coronado, as well as support from patrons, sponsors, and members.
In the past, we’ve seen The Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, and Hamlet. This year’s free Shakespeare play was Much Ado About Nothing.
It was performed in modern dress with a rousing pop soundtrack, set as a backyard barbecue welcoming home returning troops under the command of Major Don Pedro. In this hierarchy, Benedick and John the Bastard were captains, Claudio and Balthazar lieutenants, and Borachio and Conrade non-coms. Coronado has a rich military history, so the update added relevance.
Twists I especially liked:
- The relationship between Dogberry and Verges was tilted; although Dogberry continued to be the superior officer, Verges was more in charge of Dogberry than vice versa.
- Benedick had a solo dance number after being gulled into believing Beatrice loved him, which crept in organically and built up to a frenzy of exuberance, a physical “mountain of affection.”
- When Claudio had finished eulogizing Hero and been escorted offstage, weeping, Hero entered, cast an eye over the epitaph left by Claudio, and then flashed a huge grin at the audience.
- In a nifty sleight of hand, Claudio first planted then pulled Benedick’s attempted poem from his back pocket.
It’s always fun to see what modern directors make of old stories, and Shakespearean plays seem to lend themselves to fresh interpretations.