Sunday, February 03, 2013

"What fire is in mine ears"

Last night, GH and I watched the production of Much Ado About Nothing by the Theatre for New Audience, at the Duke on 42nd Street. The performance, very well directed by Arin Arbus, was crisp and funny. The only truly bad idea was to have John Keating play Verges like Kramer from the sitcom Seinfeld. Maggie Siff was a terrific Beatrice, rapier-sharp and emotionally nuanced. Jonathan Cake, as Benedick, had some good moments, but relied too much on the physical tics of American sit-coms.

Neither Michelle Beck as Hero nor Matthew Amendt as Claudio was particularly memorable. However, Robert Langdon Lloyd, who played Leonato with such noble civility in the first three acts, achieved a tragic intensity in Act Four befitting King Lear when he ranted against Hero for her supposed immorality. Don Pedro (Graham Winton), the Prince of Aragon, broke the illusion by stumbling over his lines a few times, though it was opening night. Saxon Palmer who played his bastard brother Don John could not project his voice. The Dogberry scenes worked because John Christopher Jones did not try too hard. 

Despite the unevenness of the ensemble acting, the production was very enjoyable. The music played a significant part. Liam Forde (Balthasar) had a very sweet voice. The accordian played by Spiff Wiegand brought a rustic Sicilian atmosphere to the world of the play. The set was equally idyllic. On the left of the stage, a big but low-hanging tree stood, balanced on the right by a swing. The scenic design was by Riccardo Hernandez.

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