Camarillo Playhouse makes Much of Much Ado About Nothing
by Shirley Lorraine
The wisdom, humor and wit of The Bard merrily graces the Camarillo Skyway Playhouse stage in Much Ado About Nothing, considered to be one of Shakespeare’s best comedies. Penned toward the middle of his career, Much Ado glides forward with charm to warm the hearts of all Bard fans, and those new to the works as well.
The plot involves classic mistaken identities, prank-playing, mischievous behavior and, of course, unrequited love and wronged lovers for whom all is well in the end. The quick pace is set early on through rapid-fire repartee and action. The entire cast is fully immersed in the jocular style which has delighted audiences for hundreds of years.
For her directorial debut, accomplished Ventura County actor Vivien Latham has assembled a stellar cast, all of whom deliver delightful performances. No novice to Shakespeare’s works herself, Latham set the action in the Jane Austen era which worked beautifully with the timeless material. The cast maintains such a lively pace, one almost expects the cast to burst into Gilbert and Sullivan type song at any moment.
The enchanting female leads Beatrice (Genevieve Levin) and Hero (Dawn Notagiacomo) are well matched by R. Shane Bingham as Benedick and David White as Claudio. The four play off of each other extremely well. They are well met by a highly capable supporting cast including Brandy Jones as the maid Margaret, Mark Heulitt as Leonato and Scott Blanchard as Don Pedro.
Adding superb comedic touches are Robert Reeves as Dogberry and his band of watchmen. Reeves’ verbal timing is especially spot-on throughout. The running gags alone are priceless.
In every work there must be a character of villainous nature and this role is well filled by Brian Kolb as Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, who employs several unsuspecting scapegoats to stage the scene falsely accusing the fair Hero of being less than pure the night before her wedding.
Costuming is credited to Erin Heulitt, who has assembled a visually pleasing and colorful array of costumes that not only look terrific, but accent and compliment the actors’ movements as well. The garden setting by Dean Johnson also contributes to the overall visual beauty. Multiple settings were able to be visualized without a change of scenery. Masterful.
Much Ado… is simply a delightful production. It would be an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for anyone unfamiliar with, or frightened of, the works. A number of the actors profess to be new to performing Shakespeare although no hesitancy was detected as all rose to the task admirably. No doubt this experience will encourage them to tackle even more challenges on local stages.
Much Ado About Nothing runs Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 p.m. through March 5.
Camarillo Skyway Playhouse
330 Skyway Drive, Camarillo
388-5716 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Adults $20, Students, seniors and military, $15, Under 12, $10