Shtick Humor

Much Ado About Nothing is nothing special.

It's as if the cast and the director have no faith in either the audience or the rhythm and music of the script. As a result, we don't empathize with Hero and Claudio; we're not touched by Beatrice and Benedick's newly discovered passion for each other; and some audience members laugh out loud at the pivotal moment when Much Ado trembles between comedy and tragedy.

Marble could have been an original and exciting Benedick. He has a fine speaking voice; he's lean, sexy and athletic. I'd like to have seen him in a production that allowed him to attend to the character's bearing and inner life. Hollis McCarthy possesses a Katharine Hepburn-ish intelligence and dignity as Beatrice, but she may be too subtle an actress for the outdoor Mary Rippon Theatre, which demands a big presence and a strong, highly trained voice. Kip Pierson's Claudio is quirky and emotionally open, a little reminiscent of the kvetchy but sexy doctor played by Rob Morrow on Northern Exposure. Pierson's another actor I'd like to see in something else. I can't figure out why Jessie Fisher's Hero left me so cold, when the actress showed such touching spunk and mischief as the doomed Sophie in the university's production of The White Rose last year. Jessica Austgen is a highly original talent, brilliant in certain roles, but why was she allowed to scene-steal so uninhibitedly, and why did her character, Margaret, seem to inhabit an entirely different world from that of the other characters?

Hollis McCarthy and Tony Marble make music together 
in Much Ado About Nothing.
Hollis McCarthy and Tony Marble make music together in Much Ado About Nothing.


Presented by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Through August 23 , 303-492-0554,
Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, University of Colorado at Boulder

If you want to savor the true wit and sensuality of Shakespeare's Much Ado, you should rent Kenneth Branagh's 1993 film, starring himself and Emma Thompson, and give this production a miss.

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