Not quite enough

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare
directed by Bradley Campbell
Cry Havoc Productions
Present Company Theatorium
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Julie Halpern

Cry Havoc Productions, a recent arrival on the Off-Off-Broadway scene, mounted a post-modern Much Ado About Nothing with an eclectic mix of Spanish and East Village idioms. Opening with a pre-show of 1980s punk rock music, the production utilized an interesting minimalist set designed by Kitt Lavoie (who also played Benedick) with multiple levels, making effective use of the Theatorium's great balconies and winding staircases. Most of the men were dresssed like Che Guevara and the women looked very sexy in their spaghetti straps and slip dresses courtesy of costumer Jonathan Starr. The lights designed by Kara Herzog were malfunctioning the night of performance, but looked surprisingly good against the high-tech set. Fluvius's evocative music helped to mitigate a relentlessly edgy ambience.

The acting was uneven, with seasoned, highly skilled performers sharing the stage with student-level actors. Director Bradley Campbell created some wonderful staging, but was unable to help many of his actors connect with the humanity their characters needed to bring Shakespeare's subtle comedy to life. The production suffered from interminably slow pacing, and was at least 20 minutes too long.

Bill Corry contributed a marvelous Leonato, fearlessly exploring the complexity of his character and moving seamlessly from playful comedy in the orchard scene to monumental anger at Claudio's rejection of his daughter Hero. Karl Holman was a charismatic Don Pedro, and Christopher Burke shone in his sensitive, passionate portrayal of Claudio. Jack Meggars was a handsome, likable Balthasar and played the guitar beautifully. The women were not as successful, with the exception of Margaret Evans's clever, sensual Margaret, Hero's lady-in-waiting. Tiffany Tang was attractive and fun to watch, but ultimately she failed to grasp the character of Ursula. Genevieve DeVeyra as Hero did not trust her instincts (which were usually excellent) and got bogged down with coquettish mannerisms and overacting. Joan Fishman, another talented young actress,was allowed to turn Dogberry into a nasty sexual adventuress with an offensive Long Island accent.

The multi-talented Kitt Lavoie was an ideal Benedick, handsome, confident, and totally comfortable with Shakespeare's verse. His Beatrice, Jennifer Reichert, had none of the spark or quickness that make this character so timeless and a joy to watch. Where there should have been verbal parrying and thrusts between these two, Lavoie had to work too hard to get a rise out of his petulant, oddly detached lover - his work was far better in his scenes with Don Pedro and Claudio.

With Ladan Nabet, Dara Steinberg, Chase Perrett, Dina Mandes, Darren Eichhorn, Matthew Fox,Timothy Davis, Alex Miller, Sam Rovin and Eric Aschbrenner.

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 1

Acting: 1

Set: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2000 Julie Halpern