Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare Repertory. David H. Bell's production of Much Ado About Nothing features many of the elements that made his Comedy of Errors a runaway hit for Shakespeare Repertory last season. We get an energetic, athletic, mostly young cast seasoned with reliable company regulars; splendid original songs, again by Henry Marsh, and equally splendid voices to sing them; another of Dex Edwards's expansive, warm sets suggesting balmy Mediterranean summers; and ornate costumes, this year by Nan Zabriskie, richly textured and detailed. And this script features Beatrice and Benedick, lovers "too wise to woo peaceably," and Shakespeare's promise of fulfillment to those who reject love's commitments until--with a little nudge from friends--they are sure of their choices. What modern audience could resist that?
Formerly a mainstay at Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, Bell goes beyond inventive stage business (front-row theatergoers may find themselves suddenly participating in the play's action) to create a cohesive whole out of these disparate parts. His attention to the entire stage picture and to the harmonies of speaking voices--factors often overlooked in this age of TV-screen minimalism--make for a production in which everyone in every corner is focused and vibrant at every moment of this briskly paced, precisely coordinated romantic romp.
--Mary Shen Barnidge