Much Ado About Nothing

The official opening night production of the Festival’s 60th season featured knock out performances by Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay as Benedick and Beatrice. Both actors have the ability to speak Shakespeare’s words so clearly that you don’t miss a word of the very funny dialogue. Both can say as much with a glance or a wink as most actors need paragraphs to convey. They can be serious, but they are also very funny. (As I write this I have an image of the two of them as Petruchio and Kate – that would be a cast worth seeing!)

The production lived up to Straford’s highest standards, with no weak moments or performances. it was thoroughly enjoyable and well worth the standing ovation it received. And yet, as a production it was not particularly memorable. it was set in Brasil but somehow the setting had very little impact. It could have been anywhere vaguely Latin flavoured – Spain, Italy Portugal – the music, sets and costumes did not have enough impact to make it memorable.

Outstanding performances by Juan Chioran, Bethany Jillard, James Blendick and the rest of the cast contributed to the high quality of the production. i did have some concerns about Gareth Potter’s Don John. He was withdrawn to the point of almost disappearing and you had to wonder why anyone listened to his slanders.

It was a great start to the season and a demonstration that a performance can be worth a standing ovation even if it will be forgotten soon. Of course, the audience on a first night tends to be full of fans, but to suggest that had an impact on the reaction would be cynical. Some times fans are the harshest critics, but this audience was definitely enjoying the whole evening.


About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
This entry was posted in Ben Carlson, Deborah Hay, Stratford 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Much Ado About Nothing

  1. Keith says:

    I din't really give this performance a standing ovation. A lot of people did, and I ended up standing to see what was going on.Don't get me wrong; I thought it was a very good, professional performance. But I don't think I'll remember it long.Carlson and Hay were excellent in the lead roles, although Peter Donaldson and Lucy Peacock are still my benchmark here.I thought there was a little backsliding by James Blendick it to bits of business, which he needs to watch. He has been doing so well in recent years I would hate to see him return to the lazy performances of a few years ago.Generally, a workman-like show that Stratford certainly need not be embarrassed about and will no doubt do well for the festival, but not a standout for me.

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