Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Propping up Shakespeare

We haven't written much about props here, however the American Bard Theater Company made me realize how important they can be to a successful play. Like the secondary plots in many Shakespearean comedies, props, though only playing supporting roles, can still make or break a show (see my comment on BAM's "Tempest"). Since "Much Ado About Nothing" is filled with light flirtation, it was apt that the moon appeared via a small pulley which cranked a flimsy but gorgeous cardboard globe into the sky. Like a paper lantern on a spring evening, it swayed, fragile above the stage, honestly confessing to the improvisational nature of off-off broadway theater. Rather than hiding the artifice of theatrical dressings, actors decorated the arbors with swathes of material at different moments in the play to convey the changes in scene and occasion. Sometimes it is precisely this amateur quality of theater that brings its freshness and joy, and of particular note was Andrew Eisenman in the role of Benedick who brought just the right amount of levity to the role to keep us gently amused.

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