REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Much Ado About Nothing – Chicago dell’Arte

By William Shakespearemuch ado about nothing, chicago dell'arte

Directed by Nick Freed

Produced by Chicago dell’Arte

At The RBP Rorschach, Chicago

Commedia dell’Arte elements add much to Much Ado

The folks at Chicago dell’Arte  got The Bard’s comedy just right. Director Nick Freed got his cast to  stretch the comedic elements, heighten the emotions and play the characters as larger than life and extremely likable bunch of folks. The result is a funny, swiftly moving and most articulate spoken production. The use of Commedia dell’Arte elements including masks (by Semmerling), exaggerated emotions and physical comedy and music enhanced this enjoyable romp.

much ado about nothing, chicago dell'arte

Seldom will you see such a group of lovable rascals all of which don’t take themselves too seriously. They are having as much fun performing as we are giving us permission to laugh and participate in the fun with them.

much ado about nothing, chicago dell'arte

We meet two sets of lovers: Claudio (Aaron Kirby in a charming turn) and the beautiful Hero (Jessica Record) and  the commanding Beatrice (Meg Elliott) and her picture-taking lover Benedick (the emotionally wrenching Ned Record). Claudio/Hero are aggressively in love while Beatrice and Benedick  are engaged in a “love/hate merry war” that finds each scorning love, marriage and each other.

much ado about nothing, chicago dell'arte

Much Ado About Nothing is about cuckoldry, or infidelity of a wife. In Shakespeare’s time, men couldn’t trust their women’s fidelity. They tended to believe any rumor concerning a woman’s sexual proclivity. When Hero is defamed by gossip and rumor thus ruining her marriage to Claudio, Leonato (Dennis Newport) and Francis (Alisa Rosenthal) arrange a deception designed to restore Hero’s honor and punish her detractors. They get help from the hapless master of malapropisms, Dogberry (the manic Kelly Davis Wilson) and Verges (Steven Perkins).

much ado about nothing, chicago dell'arte

This charmingly funny light-weight romp is filled with rich emotions and strong characterizations that get us to laugh and cheer for them.  Meg Elliott, Ned Record and Aaron Kirby were particularly outstanding. The intimate space at The RBP Rorschach heightens the energy of the work. This is a gem of a production by a troupe that both understand Shakespeare and articulates his poetic language to its fullest.  This show is a good time. Chicago dell’Arte is a company to keep an eye on.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At The RBP Rorschach, 4001 N. Ravenswood, Chicago, IL, call 773-530-1040, tickets $15, $10 industry, Thursday thru Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission.

Leave a Reply