Much Ado About Nothing

Oh how fitting a title. Because I feel like I did a lot, but I did nothing. Mostly I just walked around and was indecisive about what to do or what to buy. I’m even indecisive about the version of Much Ado (in French) that I saw today. I’ve never been truly compelled by the plot even though I know it’s supposed to be a better version of the Taming of the Shrew. I guess the Shrew is my first real love though. It’s the first Shakespeare play I read and I loved it. Despite protests that Much Ado is a better gender equalizer, I never read Petruchio as particularly vindictive or arrogant even though you could read him that way. Despite claiming he only wants a wife for her money, he really seems to take to Katherine and love her because of the challenge she poses. And she is happy having a strong, non-flowery language espousing husband. But then I may be reading too much into the play. Shakespeare really did grow as a writer and I find more and more that I like his history plays best of all. In any case, Leonato and Benedick were wonderful in their roles while Hera and Beatrice (as well as many of the others) seemed a bit contrived in their roles. Beatrice had the theatricality needed for a good play, but it seemed forced and perhaps more over the top than necessary. I rather a Beatrice (and a Katherine) that relies truly on wit and stage presence rather than flouncing around with lots of hand gestures. That said it was a good way to put it on and fit the language well. I know it’s a bit hard to convey how a language works within a play without sounding prejudicial in a way (some are just prettier and more suited to stage than others). But some really fit, the harsh sounds at the back of Hebrew words for the harshness of the Merchant, the guttural associations with the bestiality in Timon, the floweriness in Gujarati for the flow of All’s Well. This fit but the acting, the tone, and the body movements in general really did help sell the story. I just don’t care for the story much. And it was distracting that Claudio looked like Timon – and the idea of this upright general who falls in love and doesn’t know what to do about it conflicts greatly with the generous and then crazy (read naked) businessman. Plus both wore the same kind of suit originally.

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