Friday, April 30, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

There is a distinction in poetry between poems that rhyme and poems where simply the last word of each line (or every other line or whatever) rhyme. Rhyming poems, done well, have meter and rhythm and music. Poems where the last syllable of the last word of each line happen to share a syllable feel forced.

That's the way I feel about most productions of Shakespeare that are draped in non-Elizabethan costume and stage set. It's as if the director is adding a dash of self-conscious "edge" and shoving the play into an idea that they think good Shakespeare does.

All of which is to say I groaned a little bit when Don Pedro, Claudio and Benedick show up in Messina clothed in soldier's dress circa 1939, and somewhere in the distance a grammophone unwinds. But the American Bard Theater Company's production of "Much Ado About Nothing," actually used the period set to good effect. The playbill told us that the men were returning to Italy at the end of the Spanish Civil War. At the end of the play, Don John, the evil half-brother has absconded, but is returning "with armed men."

But the wedding feast goes on.

"Think not on him till to-morrow," Benedick says, "
Strike up, pipers."
They dance on, oblivious to the disaster that will soon interrupt their happy garden party.

No comments:

Post a Comment