Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

Melbourne Shakespeare Company has again demonstrated its skill at modernising a Shakespearean comedy without compromising its essence.

Annabelle Tudor(Beatrice) and John Vizcay-Wilson (Benedick) star in Much Ado About Nothing.*

Much Ado About Nothing, currently playing in Central Park Malvern, features such musical hits as You Really Got Me, Twist It Shake It Baby, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, Save The Last Dance for Me, Suspicious Minds, Baby Baby Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat, I Only Want To Be With You and Runaround Sue.

As is the case with other MSC shows the sexes of some of the characters have changed and the setting has been updated. However, the witty dialogue and the humorous moves and actions of the play’s comical characters are still front and centre.

Stephen Coutts (Claudio) and the cast of Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing follows the romantic entanglements of two couples: the sharp-witted Beatrice (Annabelle Tudor) and the witty Benedick (John Vizcay-Wilson); and the more naively romantic Hero (Tess Parker) and Claudio (Stephen Coutts).

Set in Melbourne in the 1960’s, MSC’s production begins with Hero’s father Leonato (Karlis Zaid), welcoming home from war Benedick, Claudio, a well-respected young nobleman and Don Pedro (Chris Broadstock), a prince. Don John (Jacqui Whiting), Don Pedro’s illegitimate sibling, a sullen and bitter troublemaker, is part of the crowd.

Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero. Meanwhile Benedick and Beatrice resume their long-standing war of witty insults.

On deciding to marry in a week, Claudio and Hero and their friends then decide to trick Beatrice and Benedick, who are clearly meant for each other, to stop arguing and fall in love.

From left: Sarah Clarke (Margaret), Tess Parker (Hero) and Elle Sejean-Allen (Antonia).*

Deciding to disrupt everyone’s happiness Don John has companion Borachio (Jackson Cross) seduce Margaret (Sarah Clarke), Hero’s serving woman, at Hero’s window in the darkness of the night, and brings Don Pedro and Claudio to watch.

Believing that he has seen Hero being unfaithful to him, the enraged Claudio humiliates Hero by suddenly accusing her of lechery on the day of their wedding and abandoning her at the altar. Hero’s heartbroken family members decide to pretend that she died suddenly of shock and grief and to hide her away while they wait for the truth about her innocence to come to light.

In the aftermath of the rejection, Benedick and Beatrice finally confess their love to one another. Fortunately, a night watchman (Alice Albon) overhears Borachio bragging about his crime. Dogberry (Bridget Sweeney) and Verges (Asher Griffith-Jones), the bumbling heads of the local police, ultimately arrest both Borachio and Conrad (Ethan Rutledge), another of Don John’s followers. Everyone learns that Hero is really innocent.

From left: The Watchman (Alice Albon), Asher Griffith-Jones (Verges) and Bridget Sweeney (Dogberry).*

As punishment for this actions Leonato insists Claudio marries Leonato’s “niece”— a girl who, he says, looks much like the dead Hero. When Hero reveals herself as the masked woman, Claudio is overwhelmed with joy. Benedick then asks Beatrice if she will marry him, and after some arguing they agree.

The hard-working cast do a great job of acting, singing and playing the accompanying music. Thanks to their comic skills and timing with Tudor, Vizcay-Wilson, Albon and Sweeney standouts, watching this funny and entertaining production proved a perfect way to spend a warm summer Melbourne evening.

Much Ado About Nothing is playing at Central Park Malvern until March 10. Visit Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s website for more information and tickets.

Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Much Ado About Nothing as a guest of the production company.

*Photo credit: Evangeline Kepler.

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