Shakespearean classic glows at Playhouse

CLAUDIO (BRYCE MILLER ’16) ACCUSES his betrothed, Hero (Casey Adam ’15), of cheating on him on the eve of their wedding, disrupting the actual ceremony.

Take a nice warm sip of your coffee (or tea) and forget the unrelenting issues of your life, because “Much Ado About Nothing” will most definitely soothe your soul. You will come away wishing you could see the play again and again. This delightful romantic comedy will grab your attention with its delicious, sweet story, poignant dialogue, and strong characters, and keep it until the very end. You’ll suddenly be transported to beautiful Messina, an Italian port city, as it was in the 1600s. The drama that envelops the lovebirds will clutch your emotions taut like guitar strings. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, and you’ll cuddle yourself (or your significant other) when you see just how much the actors have invested themselves into their roles to give you a piece of theater you won’t soon forget. Attending a performance of this play is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to enjoy the magic of William Shakespeare on a chilly autumn night.

The stage set for the love story is a small midtown street that radiates the feeling of an Italian city well. There is a fountain that sits in the middle and serves as a pedestal for many scenes to come, as well as a two-story brick house that overlooks the street, with an open window at the top. The house, as well as the rest of the set itself, does have a few tricks up its sleeve, but come see for yourself.

The play begins briskly by introducing a few of the main characters, including Don Pedro, a prince, played by Chris Guyon ’10, who really is the best fit for any villainous role. He did it well in his standout performance in the The Fantasticks, and he does it again. It was simply a pleasure to watch him pace around the stage with an apparent aura of importance and strength. Through Don Pedro, we meet Leonato, the governor of Messina, as they engage in conversation. We then drop in on the scene where Leonato and his niece Beatrice, who is played by the vivacious Emily Fernandes ’13, is talking about how she cannot find men who live up to her standards. Beatrice is a stubborn woman who refuses to show affection for anyone, and it becomes quite entertaining to see just how much she’s willing to change (or not) over the course of the story.

At a dinner party, she meets Benedick, another strong male lead played by Reece Kearney ’15, who has eyed her even before the party. Kearney’s role as Benedick is a joy to watch, as he adds the perfect brew of comic relief to what may seem strained situations at times. Benedick and Beatrice both realize they are in love with each other, yet refuse to admit this to each other, as could be predicted. You will clutch your hands and the edge of your seat as you share in their frustrations when the two actors make their cases known in long-winded monologues that are humorous, and yet so witty and informative. Will their strong determination to keep a certain reputation cause the ultimate demise of this romance? I guess that is for you to find out.

In typical Shakespeare fashion, as if one love story wasn’t enough, another one is woven in between Claudio, one of Don Pedro’s companions, and Hero, Beatrice’s cousin (and also the daughter of Leonato). The chemistry between Bryce Miller ’16 and Casey Adam ’15, who breathe life into Claudio and Hero, is just as real as in the roles they play. Soon after they meet, Hero and Claudio let their emotions flow and be known to each other and to Leonato. But the powers of evil and deceit conspire against them and attempt to ruin their beautiful love story. Will good overcome evil, and will Cupid rejoice in the end? Maybe. Or maybe not.

When you find a moment to distract yourself from the mesmerizing storyline, you will appreciate how well the actors articulate themselves on stage. Their voices, their personas, their emotions, and their clothes all make for an amazing show. You don’t see the actors on stage, you see the people they are representing. You see Beatrice’s frustration. Leonato’s thunderous rage. The evil in Don Pedro’s eyes. Benedick’s promiscuous glances. But most importantly, the love in the lovers’ eyes. All of these are important elements that make the experience of seeing the play so much more charming.

But don’t just take my word for it. Go see it yourself, and bring a friend, or a date (if you dare). Either way, it’ll be the time of your life.

You can still reserve tickets, or obtain them at the door on November 9, 10, 11, 16, or 17. Tickets are $5 for admission with an RPI ID, and $10 for general admission.