...and yet I still come out of watching Much Ado About Nothing wanting Beatrice and Don Pedro to have gotten together.

Got in to Ashland today for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I went to it last year (saw four amazing plays) and I loved it, so I'd been looking forward to going again for quite awhile. Also, it's lovely to have a vacation, as much whole summer has been spent working two jobs.

Anyway, I just saw OSF's production of Much Ado, and I must say that I loved it. They set it in Italy right after WWII, and it worked surprisingly well (baring the American accents that everyone had contrasted against the bits of Italian that were thrown in at scene changes and from background characters). The acting was wonderful (save for a little bit of overacting that felt a little painful at times), and the humor was wonderful. While pretty much everything was amazing, here are three things that stood out:

Claudio/Hero - the actors made me buy it. Every time I read the play, I end up wanting to throttle Claudio (for good reason, too), but seeing it staged/the movie version (Robert Sean Leonard!) makes me like him quite a bit more. One moment that really worked was the scene where he sings before her tomb; not only was the singing amazing, but they had Hero stand up on a balcony, watching, which made her accepting him again a bit easier to handle.

Don Pedro - I've always liked Don Pedro, from when I first saw the movie where he's played by Denzel Washington to each time I've read it. This performance was no exception; the actor was brilliant; he played Othello last season (which I wanted to see, but didn't because it wasn't playing when I was there), and I'll see he tomorrow as Macbeth. But he made the Prince this respectable and yet hilarious character. The scene where he asks Beatrice to marry him (jokingly or not) was wonderful; he asks her, she says no, and then they both just crack up on stage. He just had a wonderful command of the stage whenever he was there, and he had fantastic facial expressions and inflections.

Benedick - Wonderful. Simply wonderful. I completely bought that he was in love with Beatrice, even from the first moment they're on stage together, bickering. Like the man who played Don Pedro, the actor had a fantastic grasp of how to work the humor inherent to his character, and when he's "hiding" from the Prince/Claudio/Leonato he's just so funny to watch. Of course, the other characters know where he is on stage and show that they do through their actions, but Benedick's attempts to hide were increasingly hilarious, culminating in him hiding in a cistern/pond/tub of water. Also, his singing? Fail. But in a good way.

Honestly, the entire thing was fantastic. I'd seen some of the actors last year, and it was wonderful seeing them as completely different characters.

Tomorrow I'm seeing Macbeth and Henry VIII, and I'm quite excited!

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silver_feathered_raven

July 2011

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