‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ a modern recreation from ‘Boro students

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 5:45 PM
‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ a modern recreation from ‘Boro students by Livia Homerski
Contributed Photo

A phrase that essentially means a big fuss over something small, the title “Much Ado About Nothing”  promptly explains the premise of the Shakespearean comedy. Director J.D. Mizikowski and students of Edinboro University are presenting the play the weekend of Nov. 17, and for Shakespeare and comedy buffs alike, it’s nothing you want to say adieu to without seeing first.   

 “Much Ado” is set in more modern times for this rendition, with a group of prep school kids returning from a game. Hilarity and hijinks ensue when they begin to party and scheme to get their friends’ Claudio and Hero’s budding romances in bloom; or if you’re Don John and Borachio, get them to wither in an abrupt frost.  

 Shakespeare sure was a clever guy, and these students sure embody this quality. Several in the audience snickered at Mikhail Ferree’s suggestive hip thrust as Don John during the “Everyone’s Hero” scene, and in the drunken, emotional outbursts from, well, just about everyone. These characters were played how Shakespeare intended them to be: caricatures of personalities and their shenanigans with each other for some good, old school laughs.  

 Watching the relationships transform in the first round of performances (the weekend of Nov. 10), and watching those same relationships develop in “Much Ado” was one of the highlights, especially having seen them work in practice and then brought to the stage. So much came in about a week’s time, as many of the actors were just coming off script and continuing to inject direction into the characters during rehearsals.  

 The “couples” of the show exhibited a harmony within the relationships of the characters. Daniel Woolstrum was the most gentlemanly, albeit, gullible Claudio, and Serena Olsen’s Hero was his sensitive and dainty gentlewoman. Even Borachio's overexaggerated brutality and giggling smooths out the brooding shadiness of Don John. 

 It was mentioned during practice that Benedick and Beatrice’s romantic subplot can often be a show-stealer, and this was not proven wrong. “I would rather listen to my dog bark at a crow than hear a man swear that he loves me” was the verbal assault Beatrice, played by Gail Delk, hurled at the sneering Benedick. From that moment on, I was engulfed in their rivalry and budding romance. Sam Lander matched Beatrice’s poised energy with his own cringey-cool attitude as Benedick.  

 The other show-stealers included Elaina Krafick, who played Antonio, the alcoholic aunt of Hero. The audience first notices her trying to shimmy between dancing couples at the masked party and toting a bottle of booze for her oversized wine glass. As the play goes on, her stark delivery cuts through the drama and becomes a leading voice in the action. Krafick crafts a sagely wine aunt, who takes in the ridiculousness but is there for her niece in a pinch.   

 And don’t even get me started on Borachio. Somewhere between an intoxicated Disney villainess and an overzealous scoundrel, Erika Krasneski consistently had audience members cackling along with her. You could tell she loved and understood this character, which in turn, made her lines and purpose apparent to the audience.  

 There were a few times when it was difficult to hear what they were saying. The actors aren’t mic'd, so they must rely on the strength of their own voice, and for the most part they succeeded. This was more of an issue in the beginning; some of Don Pedro’s parts lost me because it was spoken too timidly or not paired with enough action. Perhaps it just may be part of his gentle but deep-rooted loyalty to his friends that Eric Reiche was trying to portray. 

The lost lines came in small enough snippets that it did not interfere with the understanding of the show, but if you want to hear every uttered word, be sure to sit up front.  

 The second showings of “Much Ado About Nothing” will be this weekend in the Diebold Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 16-18 at 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. General admission is $10; $5 for EU faculty, staff, non-EU students and senior citizens; and $3 for EU students. Shakespeare is best understood when seen, and “Much Ado About Nothing” guarantees laughs for quarreling lovers and friends to drink to.  

Livia Homerski can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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