Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 10, 2017

Much Ado About Nothing

Suffield Players, Suffield, CT
through October 21, 2017
by Shera Cohen

This is not your usual review, but a commentary on Shakespeare’s plays, “Much Ado About Nothing,” and community theatre.

Last weekend I enjoyed the fun of “Much Ado” at Suffield Players. Bravo to Suffield for taking on the task of mounting a play whose language is far from the norm. It’s difficult enough to learn lines, let alone Shakespeare’s. While Friday nights are traditionally sluggish for actors, crew, and audience members who are tired at the end of their work weeks, it was disappointing that so few attended what I consider, one of the Bard’s best.

Aside from “Romeo and Juliet,” a given for all high school students who intend to graduate, I suggest that today’s audience look at “Much Ado” as Shakespeare 101. Please, do not heed the many “warnings” about attending a Shakespeare play. I won’t understand it. I’ll have to pay attention to every word. It’s ancient history. It doesn’t relate to me. It’s long and boring. There are too many characters to remember. It’s expensive. The man is dead and who cares.

Now, let’s look at various bright sides of “Much Ado,” Suffield Players,” and theatre. This is a Comedy. Sections of some of the Dramas can be a bit difficult to understand at times, and (admittedly) good chunks of the History plays as well, but laughter and the reasons audiences laughed in the 1500’s England (or any other venue used by Shakespeare; i.e.  Italy, France, or fantasy islands) are pretty much the same now.

This production has been set in the Roaring 20’s (that’s 1920’s, not 1520’s), New York with nifty costumes, hairstyles, and music that accentuates the time. While this play is not nearly as long as some of Shakespeare’s, just the same, it has been adapted and edited enough to tell the entire story without skimping. In other words, the play is short.

The Cast
Yes, there are many characters, but again, the editor’s computer has deleted the unnecessary. The comprehensive plot is intact whether it be set five centuries ago or 100 years. “Much Ado” is a humorous love story. The male feigns disinterest in his female counterpart. In turn, she pretends to care less. There’s lots of humorous scheming by friends and family who want to make the two a match. It’s no spoiler alert that, indeed, Beatrice and Benedict wed at play’s end.

Most importantly, neither you nor the people with you, or for that matter most in the audience, will comprehend every word. Don’t even try. It doesn’t matter. Trust me, you will “get it” quickly, with no brain cells lost in this seemingly arduous task. The fact that a community theatre troupe, Suffield Players, is the producer, indicates that this “Much Ado” or any other Shakespearean play will be easily accessible. Also, by trying out Shakespeare at this level of theatre, you get top quality at a good price.

Any Shakespeare play featuring bumbling Keystone Kops has got to be fun for all. Give the Bard a shot. And remember that “Much Ado” is where you should start.