Much Ado About Nothing is romantic, funny and highly entertaining – and, yes, it’s also a play by William Shakespeare.
Director David Keirnan hopes audiences not usually drawn to Shakespeare will give the Bard a chance, and experience Phoenix Ensemble’s production of the classic romantic comedy when it opens at Beenleigh’s Pavilion Theatre on 22 July (continuing over four weekends).
An experienced Shakespearean actor, David says it’s the nature of the story – and its charm, energy and quick wit – that wins over audiences, and even though the play has been around for five centuries, its themes are still as relevant as ever.
“People are still falling in and out of love and denying the love that is right in front of them.”
Much Ado About Nothing is the story of two sets of lovers: Claudio and Hero, who are deeply in love, and Beatrice and Benedick, who are deeply in denial. When Claudio humiliates Hero she has a fainting attack and pretends to die, prompting Beatrice and Benedick to join forces – while will still carrying on their good-humoured war of the sexes.
David says the story is easy to follow, even with the Shakespearean language, thanks to its contemporary structure.
“It is, after all, a romantic comedy, and much of the humour comes from the situations the characters are in, rather than being dependant on the text itself. I think this is Shakespeare’s funniest play, and it offers a big cast the chance to play a wide variety of different characters.”
For those who think Shakespeare isn’t for them, David points out the Bard wrote plays to be performed, not read or studied – providing an entirely different experience on the stage.
“If you’ve never seen a Shakespeare performance that does justice to the text, you don’t know what you’re missing. Much Ado is a really funny play filled with great characters, and the story is very easy to follow.
The production features a talented cast of 14 performers, including familiar Phoenix regulars and some new faces. Intensive rehearsals included a workshop with Jennifer Flowers, one of Australia’s most acclaimed stage actresses (renowned for roles with Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company and La Boite), who helped the cast get the most out of the text.
“A lot of the cast are performing Shakespeare for the first time, and it’s great to see them challenge their preconceptions and discover the joy of working with the Bard,” David says.
“This is a great play and the cast has worked really hard to do it justice. You’ll laugh, you may cry and you may even boo at the bad guy.”
David has performed in more than a dozen Shakespearean plays during his 10-year acting career (including three years with the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble), and this is the third time he’s been involved in Much Ado.
“There is always something new with Shakespeare, always a different way it can be delivered. I’m still finding new meanings and significance in the words I’m hearing. Shakespeare, who was an actor, writes for the actor, and all of his characters are full and rich and so much fun to play.
“Through his words I feel I have the opportunity to express what it is like to be fully human, completely engaged in this theatre show we call life. After all "All the world is a stage...”
Emily Joy - Beatrice
Matt Gattney - Benedick
David Sigston - Claudio
Brodie Dwyer - Hero
Gareth Ward - Don Pedro
Doug McClean - Leonato
Jo Mikkelsen - Dogberry
Joel Mikkelsen - Don John/Sexton
Alex Milosevic - Borachio
Kat Khan - Conrade
Brian Byrne - Antonio
Caitlyn Hill - Margret/Watch
Belinda Welland - Ursula
Andrew Szolser - Verges/Friar/Messenger
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh
7.30pm: 22, 23, 29, 30 July & 5, 6, 12, 13 August 7.30pm
Tickets: $18 - $26