Once again Stephen Lee brings us a little known Shakespeare and presents it with infectious delight.
We went to see it on Saturday night, and you would think that after 7 straight performances you would start to see some cracks. But no, the acting was fast paced and energetic, and at times the audience were in tears of laughter.
It's an interesting play and one I haven't seen before, except for the 1st third of the Brannagh version. While being primarily a comedy, there's a really dark thread that runs through it partway, which is an interesting contrast.
Mr Lee has set this in the 1920's, in keeping with the original play's post war scenario, people are looking for relaxation and diversion - and the role of woman in society is being questioned. The jazz score works beautifully, highlighting the beauty of the flapper and other costumes. Lovely clothes.
The wedding scene is played very sensitively, it is very emotionally charged...
This is chiefly a comedy though, and there are some scenes...particularly the Benedict (David Gregory) under the table scene.
This is a play that really ought to be better known, and this is the production to introduce you to it. Actually, I wish this had been the play I'd been made to study to death, instead of Hamlet. It's a lot more accessible to a modern audience, and the interplay between the characters, Claudio (Chris McInnes) & Hero (Perfectly cast the sweet Sara Young), Beatrice (Wonderfully played by Julia Dalby) and Benedict particularly, the tricks and shennanigans.
As well as the darker consequences of the brooding, bitter, Don John's actions make for great drama. I like the touch of Don John's (Rodney Vermeij) little toy, you'll know it when you see it. It really added something and was quite startling. Has someone finally solved the problem of giving actors something to do with their hands?
And then there is the wonderful proto-Inspetor-Clouseau where Shakespeare's mastery of language and Dogberry's (Grant Malcolm's) delivery is superb and quite hilarious. Mrs Pinns (Joanne Williams) of the Neighbourhood Watch's arrest technique is something to look out for.
If you wanted to introduce kids to Shakespeare, you could do worse than this one, I was sitting next to a young teen, and she was rapt, so it wasn't just me.
I can't mention everyone, because I'd just go on and on, but there was some very interesting interplay going on in the backgrounds that was more than worth a second glance, and as this is a play about rumour and gossip, it's very appropriate. Esmerald Rocha, as Conrade the reporter is worth keeping an eye on, and is really expressive without even saying a word.
This production is well worth seeing, and at the New Fortune, it's being seen as it was in Shakespeare's time and it's all good really.
You may still see it on the 11th through to the 15th of March, at The New Fortune Theatre at UWA.
Sitting at the side is good viewing if you can manage it.