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Nothing Much to ‘Much Ado’

Shakespeare Ensemble Show Falls Flat in First Act, Redeems Itself in Second Act

By Sandra Galdamez

Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare Ensemble

La Sala de Puerto Rico

March 11-13 and 18-20, 8 p.m.

Written by William Shakespeare

Directed by Wanda Strukus

Starring Rydia Q. Vielehr ’04, Nathaniel R. Twarog ’07, and Kay U. Sullivan G

As I entered La Sala on Saturday night, I had high hopes of being entertained for two hours. But I should have listened to my inner voice of doom that screamed “Caution!” when I looked into my program and noticed that the show was going to be two and a half hours long.

And what a two and a half hours it was. The first half of the play was, to say the least, uninspiring. There was a plot somewhere, I think, but it was lost in all the words. Claudio (Usman O. Akeju ’05) did an alright job courting Hero (Miranda E. Knutson ’06) and I think that’s about all that I understood.

The only hope for the second half was Friar Antonio (Walter G. Holland G). If there was redemption for the show, it was in this very spirited, hilarious little brother. He was the biggest reason that I stayed and watched the end of the show. To be fair, the second half of the show was exponentially better than the first half, although I can’t say that it was reason enough to watch the whole thing. But if there was one thing to highlight, it has to be Holland’s clarinet solo. What can I say? The man is talented.

Others that redeemed themselves the second time around were Benedick (Mike A. Simon), Beatrice (Holly B. Laird ’07), and Akeju. Both Simon and Akeju fared well with their musical duties and overall the acting was better. However, there were still too many times where I just couldn’t stand to hear another line said in the same tone.

Another thing that left me confused was the dancing. Dancing is a great way to pick up people at parties, but I hardly think it works in Shakespeare. It’s like brain surgery: excessive wiggling can have disastrous results. At the end of the first act, I was left thinking, “Now what in the world was that ten minute dance scene about?” I hardly think that a two and a half hour play needs a dance sequence, especially when the time spent practicing the dances could have been spent practicing some other important things.

What I don’t understand is what happened here. There were interesting sets, good lighting, good music, and great costumes, but still something went horribly wrong. Considering that the Shakespeare Ensemble’s last production, “Antigone,” was such an amazing show, I was deeply disappointed in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Where did all that talent go?

Overall, I think I would have much rather have spent my time asking the production staff for a copy of the soundtrack of the play and listening to it. The same Shakespeare story -- boy meets girl, romance, misunderstanding and confusion, and a happy ending -- was all I got from the play. So much for inspiration. Save your six bucks and go watch “Monster” at the theatres. I hear it’s good.