When Shakespeare’s comedies are done right the audiences leave with lifted hearts. That’s what’s on offer with Theatricum Botanicum’s current production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Everything works: the directing, the acting, the costumes and most especially, the comedy. It’s all about fun, with a few machinations to stir the pot.
Susan Angelo as Beatrice and Robertson Dean as Benedick are ideally cast in the roles of witty verbal adversaries. Frequently cast in dramatic roles, it is delightful to witness the volumes Dean communicates with his facial expressions. Angelo’s ability to communicate clearly in iambic pentameter while garnering every possible laugh is stunning. Both have impeccable timing and their ability to execute the physical humor blocked by Co-Directors Ellen and Willow Geer is priceless.
Before he utters a word, Mark Lewis reveals Don John’s sullen, mean-spirited nature and Mark Salazar as Prince Don Pedro (August 23, 2014) is splendid in his portrayal of a leader who is well-meaning, but too easily duped by his illegitimate sibling. Seta Alexander is riveting as Borachio who helps Don John execute his plan to besmirch Hero.
Besotted at first sight with Hero (lovely Jackie Kiivee) Colin Simon (Claudio) is matinee idol handsome and both are convincing as young lovers whose path to bliss is not smooth.
Dogberry (Tim Halligan, resembling a character out of “The Wizard of Oz”) and his crew of peace keepers add mightily to the overall frivolity.
Truth be told, each member of this talented cast contributes to its success on all levels.
Shout outs to Val Miller’s clever costuming, clothing the “good guys” in bright blue, the “bad guys” in black and the maidens in white. Brilliant.
Don’t miss the rollicking good time provided by this fabulous show. Audiences are unlikely to find a better production of “Much Ado About Nothing” in So Cal or anywhere for that matter.
“Much Ado About Nothing” performs in rep with “Lear,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through September, 27, 2014. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley.