"Much Ado About Nothing" Is Something Great

James Jelkin (Benedick) and Sarah Wintermeyer (Beatrice) star in Much Ado About Nothing Feb 28-Mar 9 onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.
James Jelkin (Benedick) and Sarah Wintermeyer (Beatrice) star in Much Ado About Nothing Feb 28-Mar 9 onstage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre.
From Bonnie's Blog, written by CT Critics Circle member Bonnie Goldberg.

Will Shakespeare enjoys playing Cupid and making fools out of would-be lovers, turning hearts inside out, sporting with affections and playing tricks but, ultimately, assuring that “all’s well that ends well.” In his delightful comedy “Much Ado about Nothing,” currently intriguing courtships at the Nafe Katter Theatre on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs until Sunday, March 9, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre takes merry mayhem poking holes in romance.

Come meet two pairs of lovers, one set who absolutely disdain the concept and openly attack each other verbally, Benedick and Beatrice, and the other couple, at the diametric opposite end of the spectrum, is rendered speechless by their adoration for each other, Claudio and Hero.

The action is set in the 1950’s, in a Cape Cod-like location, with soldiers returning from the Korean conflict.  A feisty Beatrice (Sarah Wintermeyer) takes great pleasure in a ping-pong game of verbal volleys that she slams at Benedick (James Jelkin).  On the surface, they can barely stand to be in the other’s presence, on the tennis court, the golf greens or at a lavish dance party.  Perhaps they doth protest too much?

Leonato (David McCann) has a lovely daughter Hero (Briana Maia) and he encourages the Prince (Anthony J. Goes) to woo her in Claudio’s stead (Colby Lewis).  The match is quickly set and the marriage date announced.  Too easy one might question?

That old matchmaker Will is not above a little trickery and deception to make his point.  The Prince’s devious brother Don John (Will Haden) is determined to railroad the festivities and sets Borachio (Thomas Brazzle) and Conrade (Ryan Marcone) in a plot, using Hero’s unsuspecting maid Margaret (Olivia Saccomanno) as the foil.

With a bit of clever comic confusion, the police constable Dogberry (Darek Burkowski) and his associate Verges (Kevin Hilversum) uncover the dastardly deed, but not before a lot of emotional damage has been done.  Will’s characters are too fast to accuse and too quick to forgive in what might be called a tragic moment in the midst of this merry comedy.

Paul Mullins directs an excellent cast, keeping the pace moving in a multitude of directions.  Joe Keener III has set his stage design in clever ways while Tiffany Delligatti has outdone herself in the costume parade.  Songs by Frank Sinatra capture the mood effectively.

For tickets ($7-37), call 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu.  The performances will take place at the Nafe Katter Theatre, 820 Bolton Road, Storrs.  Curtains are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Velvet gloves are discarded as witty words are bandied about until the battlers, Benedick and Beatrice, are tricked into revealing their true affections.  Come witness their battle royal.

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