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Assessment: STC’s ‘A lot Ado’ set in a TV information studio is nothing however enjoyable


In classical circles, the authorship of “A lot Ado About Nothing” is universally attributed to the comedic quill of William Shakespeare. On the event of Shakespeare Theater Firm’s cleverly and mischievously reset model, although, historical past should report the involvement of a newly recruited wit.

That may be one Emily Burns, credited because the manufacturing’s playwright, or literary adviser. Burns’s contributions from her at Harman Corridor additionally embrace what are actually a number of the funniest passages in an up to date textual content, set in a Washington tv studio. Particularly, the newest dish that Shakespeare Information Community anchors Benedick and Beatrice impart to viewers, about Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Gertrude and a batch of different Elizabethan celebrities.

Burns’s bulletins are illustrative of the wild abandon with which director Simon Godwin and his solid deal with one among Shakespeare’s hottest comedies, detailing the championship battle of the sexes between Beatrice and Benedick. It is visually a pleasure, gag-wise a ton of enjoyable, and plot sensible, properly, a bit much less profitable. The play’s mechanics concerning a declare of virginity and the accusations of a bride’s premarital betrayal do not match up readily with the (oftentimes) extra enlightened sexual politics of the twenty first century.

So to Shakespeare purists, perplexed by the suspension of logic, I say: Motive not the necessity. Particularly for those who simply wish to benefit from the antics Godwin and firm whip up by replanting “A lot Ado” in a two-story newsroom, snazzily realized on a turntable set by designer Alexander Dodge. As portrayed by Kate Jennings Grant and Rick Holmes, Beatrice and Benedick are newscast co-anchors, alternately appalled and aroused by one another in a traditional Hepburn-and-Tracy form of means.

It may be an ordeal, watching administrators power Shakespearean rethinks into up to date settings, the way in which Cinderella’s stepsisters attempt to cram their toes into an ill-fitting slipper. However right here the character transpositions are half the pleasure.

Across the co-anchors Godwin positions the appealingly fraught second couple, Hero (Nicole King) and Claudio (Paul Deo Jr.), as SNN’s sportscaster and weatherman, and Leonato (Edward Gero, properly solid as at all times) as the published’s govt producer and in addition Hero’s father, who, yeah, raises the nepotism query. Don Pedro (a chic Carlo Albán) appears to be some model of stories business expertise agent, and his no-goodnik brother Don John (Justin Adams) is the newsroom killjoy. Why somebody does not sic HR on him is past me.

Makes an attempt have been made in different productions to inject an autumn-of-life bittersweetness into “A lot Ado,” as Beatrice and Benedick commerce of their barbs and insults for a extra grownup grasp of the boundaries of time and romantic alternative. Godwin, who just lately staged one other “A lot Ado,” set on the Italian Riviera, for London’s Nationwide Theatre, doubles down right here on the farcical corollaries within the legal guidelines of attraction. The couple’s refusal to acknowledge what is clear to everybody else—their inseparability—makes clowns of them each. So within the pair of scenes by which Beatrice and Benedick overhear their mates remarking on how a lot the one loves the opposite, and vice versa, the eavesdropping is performed for outright slapstick. Lord, what fools these anchors be!

A metropolis awash in newsmakers appears apt for a “A lot Ado” by which the coolheaded authority figures on tv—the Harman stage is bedecked with screens—change into emotional wrecks. (Keep tuned for the cameo by the real-life cable information eminence.) Grant’s portrayal of ella radiates with the bearing of an outwardly assured information persona conflicted about her off-camera lifetime of ella, and Holmes’s Benedick evokes the manly sort whose self-importance is definitely punctured. The dynamic they create is convincingly up to date, a pressure that performs as compellingly within the digital age because it did within the days of the groundlings.

The technical calls for of farce, nonetheless, generally get the higher of this manufacturing. On the evening I attended, the phantasm of polish was marred as drinks went flying and gags grew untidy. The detritus from one scene was left unattended by means of two extra spins of the turntable, which revolves to disclose get together sequences and the community’s safety workplace. That is the hangout for the enjoyably idiotic boob-in-chief, officer Dogberry (Dave Quay), his assistant, Verges (Terrance Fleming, subbing for David Bishins), and the 2 trainees performed by Quinn M. Johnson and Raven Lorraine, newbies who’ve extra law-enforcement sense than their numskull of a boss.

Deo and King make a dashing couple and deal with their assignments charmingly, even when the magnanimity that Hero is compelled to show at night’s finish appears an act of forgiveness worthy of sainthood. Evie Gurney’s costumes add to the fashionable veneer of Dodge’s eye-catching set and Aaron Rhyne’s crisply conceived projections.

The comedian icing is the stuff {that a} Shakespeare lover’s goals are made on. Burns’s scripting of the published segments is a gleeful and affectionate stroll by means of the canon. You solely should replicate on all the character imagery within the performs to think about the sector day SNN’s meteorologist has with a Shakespearean climate forecast. All I can say is, iamb glad to have been there for it.

A lot Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Simon Godwin. Units, Alexander Dodge; costumes, Evie Gurney; lighting, Donald Holder; sound, Fan Zhang; projections, Aaron Rhyne; music, Michael Bruce. With Sarah Corey, Michael Kevin Darnall, Dina Thomas, Nehassaiu deGannes, Ryan Neely. About 2 hours 40 minutes. By means of Dec. 11 at Harman Corridor, 610 F St. NW.

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