This past week I had the pleasure of attending Press Night for the Shakespeare Orange County production of, “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Fun thing about Shakespeare: With the use of one wrong inflection or taking too long to deliver a line, the show goes from amazing to contrite or forced. The Bard left out a lot of staging cues and many people seem to think that every line needs to be delivered in a loud, emphatic question.
Because, clearly, all the world’s a stage and all its statements questions.
“Much Ado” is one of my favorites. I also love the film version, although really, who doesn’t love Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branaugh?
One of my favorite lines is when Beatrice (confirmed bachelorette) is shouting at Benedick (confirmed bachelor) that she is mad about the public shaming of her cousin on said cousins wedding day.
Says the enraged Beatrice, “GOD THAT I WERE A MAN, I WOULD EAT HIS HEART IN THE MARKETPLACE!”
(About dear cousin Hero’s bethrothed Claudio being a total A-hole.)
Which I love. Angriest single girl ever.
What I don’t love is how milksoppy and mildly insipid many of the romantic characters in Shakespeare can be. Yes, at 13, my heart could be won over with a recital from “Romeo and Juliet.”
Now, I see a 14-year-old and 19-year-old running around and then committing suicide rather than just eloping to Vegas (where clearly, the legal age of consent is 14, obviously). Wham bam, Elvis drive through, Cirque de Soleil show, Bellagio musical fountain and a buffet later, all is good.
Juliet gets her GED and Romeo gets a union construction job. They have many fat happy children who all eventually get into great schools because of grandma and grandpa’s old money.
Another thing about Shakespeare is that due to so many revivals, it is easily re-interpreted into more modern settings.
I wonder though, what would be the best re-imagining?
This topic has come up for me a few times and I keep saying I would want to see “Porgie and Bess” given the Baz Luhrman treatment ( What? Genius, I know) but then what ol’ Will?
How about Steampunk Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Or maybe 1960’s hippy Hamlet?
Ready, set, respond in the comments below!