theatre preview

Kerry Sandomirsky as Beatrice and Andrew Wheeler as Benedick in Bard on the Beach's Much Ado About Nothing. Photo: David CooperMuch Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
Bard on the Beach
Vanier Park
June 3-September 26

Now running three plays on two stages, with sold-out houses nearly every night, Bard on the Beach is one of Vancouver’s great theatrical success stories. Its 15th season opener, Much Ado About Nothing, playing in the large tent at Vanier Park, guarantees Bard another wildly popular Shakespearean hit. It’s a sweet summer confection grounded in just enough underlying bitterness to satisfy any taste.

Director Michael Shamata, who gave us the vivacious Hello Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof at the Playhouse, and Comedy of Errors at last year’s Bard, shows again why he’s become a Vancouver favourite. Shamata provides a stylish 1940s setting for the witty duel of reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedict, and the Claudio-Hero subplot of young love nearly foiled by malicious misogyny. Silver cigarette cases, the strains of “Begin the Beguine,” and Mara Gottler’s gorgeous period costumes complement a wonderful ensemble and snappy, if sometimes shamelessly silly blocking, to make this a delicious comic treat.

Kerry Sandomirsky steals the show as tough, sexy Beatrice, who “had rather hear my dog bark at a cow than a man swear he loves me.” Of course she melts when confirmed bachelor Benedict swears that he does. Andrew Wheeler’s Benedict is a little stiff and chilly, but his collapse into hopeless love (“the world must be peopled,” he rationalizes) is also very funny. Christopher Gaze has so much fun playing the malapropistic constable Dogberry that he should be arrested. Gerry Mackay’s subtly melancholy Prince and Russell Roberts as the father of slandered Hero highlight the first-rate supporting cast.

When the sun sets during the second act and the lights of the north shore mountains come up on the most spectacular natural backdrop to any theatre anywhere, you get the full Bard experience.

Jerry Wasserman


last updated: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 8:17 PM
website design by Linda Fenton Malloy