Get Out of the House. Go See MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING in the Park!
Head Trick Theatre's production Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING finishes its brief run this Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at 8:00 at Roger Williams National Park on North Main St. in Providence. The company's mission is to "put on innovative productions of classic plays with a focus on the importance of liveness." Director, and Artistic Director, Rebecca Maxfield have hit the mark here! With what I'll bet is an almost nonexistent budget, they have produced an enjoyable evening of theater. It was tough to leave the AC on a particularly warm evening, but it was worth it.
What's to Like? Head Trick usually performs at AS220, but I think Shakespeare out of doors on a summer evening could be a very nice thing indeed for the City of Providence. It works in Central Park, it works in Westerly, why shouldn't it work here? I don't think I'd ever seen this piece performed live, and once I gave myself in to it, it was an eye-opener. First was the character, Don John (Ibrahima Tylar Jahumpa): here, six years before "Othello," is the incipient character of Iago-malevolent through and through. Don John, as the bastard brother to Don Pedro (Devon Andrews), has more understandable motivation than Iago, but there he
is just the same, miserable and cunning.
Another thing to like is the performance of David Adams Murphy as the father of Hero, she whom Don John seeks to destroy, that pivots this play away from the frivolous towards the substantial. I could feel his pain as the father of the daughter, Hero (Valerie Kane) done ill by a false accusation. To paraphrase Hamlet: What is he to Hero, and Hero to him; but Murphy's performance gives the play a depth of felling which makes the whole thing work.
His was not the only strong performance. Geoffrey Besser as Claudio, Devon Andrews as Don Pedro, Hannah Heckman-Mckenna as Benedick were very believable, and Christine Pavao as Beatrice got the biggest laugh of the night, unable to speak with a mouthful of noodles.
Were there problems? Of course, living things have problems. First of all, the location on North Main forced the actors to compete for our attention with the passing traffic. This abated somewhat as the evening progressed, but some of the banter between Beatrice and Benedick was lost to the passing Plymouths. Is there another outdoor location in the city which could lend itself better? Roger Williams Park maybe. Secondly, the lighting: Head Trick needs to find a way to get the lights higher and better directed; as it is, they were shining right in the eyes of the audience. It might have been better stage left. And finally, a mixed review for Stuart Wilson as Dogberry: to often in the first act he faced away from the audience and his lines were lost. This happened less often in the second act, and he was really funny.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING has three shows remaining the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 P.M. Running time is two hours including intermission. Suggested donationis $15.00. For more information visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HeadTrickTheatre/