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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Shakespeare in Delaware Park
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Aug 1, 2018, 12:26
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Through August 19
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING/b> Shakespeare in Delaware Park

Think of most of the characters in “Much Ado About Nothing” as one-percenters with too much time on their hands.
It’s all in Leonato’s (“Fisher”) Messina, when Don Pedro (Chris Hatch) brings his officers for a visit after a military victory down the road.
They immediately begin to look for love in new places and plot for power.
Don Pedro has a brother from the wrong side of the blanket, Don John (Xavier Harris), who hates him.
That’s one of Shakespeare’s continuing tropes, shown earlier this summer by Shakespeare in Delaware Park in “King Lear,” with its deadly family maneuverings.
Clearly, the usual recounting of “Much Ado” is the maneuvering between Beatrice (Kate LoConti), Leonato’s niece, and Benedick (Todd Benzin), one of Don Pedro’s closest aides.
Not dropping a secret, the two go from sniping members of the governing crowd to a marriage scene.
Another aide, Claudio (Nick Stevens), falls in love with Leonato’s daughter, Hero (Melinda Capeles), and an immediate marriage is arranged and the almost immediate wedding day set.
However, it’s a winding road from engagement to (I Do.)
The men around Benedick and the women around Beatrice plot to put the two together, with Shakespeare’s usual flair for farce and with strong direction from Kyle LoConti to show how silly so much of this is.
Don John tries to break up the close relationship between Leonato and Don Pedro by using close aides to sabotage the impending Hero/Claudio marriage and more behind-the-scenes plotting.
Beatrice persuades Benedick to kill Claudio because of the way he has treated her cousin and he’s willing to kill for his beloved.
Because the script and the production move along so quickly, you don’t realize how silly this whole plot is.
Where it descends into clearly intended farce is the city’s incompetent Watch, led by Dogberry (Gregory Gjurich), beginning the nightly patrol and arresting Don John’s key agent in the plot against Hero and Claudio after Borachio (Nathanial W C. Higgins) drunkenly brags about what he did for his leader.
This gives rise to a long sequence of the watch and the arrest and the hearing which uncovers the plot and leaves Don John on the run.
It’s built here around Dogberry with Gjurich giving the physical movement of Groucho Marx’ wide movements and long steps.
It’s good until it goes on for too long, although it’s cleverly directed and well-acted.
This brings Hero and Claudio back together in a double wedding.
Clearly, “Much Ado About Nothing” is the comic yang to “Lear’s” yin and offering humor (mostly) entertainment.
It’s well done and the audience on the grassy hill clearly liked the show on the new set which offers staging opportunities better than the old and narrower set.
LoConti has some strong performers, especially Benzin and LoConti, Fisher and Gjurich.
It’s a deep cast, necessary in these Shakespeare shows.
Not only is “Much Ado About Nothing” a strong and often very funny production, it carries along all of the elements of an evening on Shakespeare Hill, the food and the wine and the camaraderie and that’s why it’s worth showing up.

A.W.

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