Much Ado About Nothing OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • NY TIMES

  • VARIETY

  • DAILY NEWS

  • HR

  • VULTURE

Opening Night:
June 16, 2014
Closing:
July 26, 2014

Theater: Delacorte Theatre / Central Park, New York, NY, 10023

Synopsis: 

Hamish Linklater and Tony nominee Lily Rabe return to the Park this summer as the wise-cracking, would-be lovers Beatrice and Benedick in the beloved romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Central Park becomes sun-drenched Sicily at the turn of the last century, where the heat of summer ignites the fevered passions of lovesick ladies in corsets and pining gentlemen spying from the verandah. Three-time Tony winner Jack O’Brien directs this delightful skirmish of wit between two self-declared bachelors tricked by their mischief-making friends into falling in love against their will and in spite of their own hearts.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Much Ado About Nothing

    Dancing Between Battles
    Lily Rabe in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ in Central Park

    Ben Brantley

    June 17, 2014: Fair weather never lasts forever, not even in the Eden-like patch of Sicily that has popped up in Central Park. That’s the setting for Jack O’Brien’s pleasure-filled production of Much Ado About Nothing, which opened on Monday night at the Delacorte Theater. Though skies and temperaments are sunny when the show begins, you’re always conscious of brooding storms waiting to make their angry entrances. This being Shakespeare in the Park, where everyone is at the mercy of the elements, such apprehension operates on two levels. The night I caught this Much Ado — which confirms the reputation of its leading lady, Lily Rabe, as one of our sharpest and most spirited young interpreters of Shakespeare — the rains came. They copiously watered the cast and the audience, as well as the fruitful gardens that are part of John Lee Beatty’s summertime idyll of a set. Yet, if anything, the showers only enhanced the show’s holiday spirit, as well as the play’s suggestion that bright horizons often teasingly recede as we pursue them.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF Much Ado About Nothing

    Off Broadway Review: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at Shakespeare in the Park

    Marilyn Stasio

    June 16, 2014: All those giddy young lovers in Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies have a regrettable tendency to blur into one another. Except, of course, for Beatrice and Benedick, that quick-witted, quarrelsome pair in Much Ado About Nothing. Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater, favorites with Gotham auds, would seem ideally cast (by helmer Jack O’Brien) as those squabbling lovers, in the summer’s first Public Theater production of Shakespeare in the Park. Strange to say, this perfect romance begins on an awkward note, not really clicking until deep into the second act — just in time to restore our faith in these enchanting lovers. It’s tempting to credit this restorative power to a creative team with the singular expertise it takes to turn an outdoor stage into a magical place.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Much Ado About Nothing

    ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    June 16, 2014: Preseasoning boosts the flavors of many dishes — and plays. It does the trick for the Public Theater’s Much Ado About Nothing, which spices things up before anyone, including Shakespeare in the Park veterans Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater, utter a word of dialogue. First, there’s a disembodied voice that causes a commotion. And then — presto! — a pretty melody sets a stubbornly immobile vine-covered wall in motion. The point: Sweet magic is in the air. The preshow tricks lend wit and warmth to this well-seasoned and tasty take on the Bard. The foodie metaphors are fitting since director Jack O’Brien’s good-looking staging prominently feature an orange tree heavy with fruit, plus a vegetable garden. Fertile place, that Sicily. But what’s really blooming is the love between a woman and a man so seemingly mismatched that they, of course, belong together. That’s the immutable law of romantic comedy — and this Shakespeare play is the timeless rom-com template.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Much Ado About Nothing

    'Much Ado About Nothing': Theater Review

    David Rooney

    June 17, 2014: In a fussy bit of business employed multiple times in the Shakespeare in the Park summer staging of Much Ado About Nothing, a garden trellis wall flanking designer John Lee Beatty's gorgeous 19th century Sicilian villa slides away as if by magic, with music providing the force that muscle cannot. This is perplexing given that unlike, say, A Midsummer Night's Dream, this play's turmoil of the heart is the result purely of foolish human behavior, and not of some mysterious enchantment. However, magic is essentially missing from the chemistry of Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater as Beatrice and Benedick, the verbal sparring partners whose "skirmish of wit" should ignite the romantic comedy. Which is not to say that having mismatched characterizations in the central reluctant romance completely dampens one of Shakespeare's most enjoyable works. In fact, during a drizzly first press performance that had to be paused at one point near the conclusion when the rain grew too heavy, the wetter the lead actors became the more they appeared to loosen up and enjoy one another's company.

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Much Ado About Nothing

    Theater Review: In the Park, a Much Ado About Nothing That Transcends Its Title

    Jesse Green

    June 16, 2014: I’ve been tough on the Shakespeare tragedies recently, but the comedies are no less rich in potential problems for modern audiences. Start with the interfering gods and fairies, the lusty wenches and dimwit rustics. Then add the disguises and outrageous coincidences. Swallow if you can the identical twins. The cross-gender identical twins. The sum of all this is often twee. Some of the titles and subtitles even put you on notice that the plot mechanics may not stand up to serious consideration: As You Like It. What You Will. The Comedy of Errors. Much Ado About Nothing. Despite its especially dismissive name, Much Ado is actually the outlier in that list. It does feature dimwit rustics, briefly, and one masked dance in which a disguise results in an unlikely misunderstanding. But the rest of the comedy is utterly unmasked: It is purely, intensely, and naturally human. For the most part, the motivations that elsewhere bob on otherworldly currents are anchored here in the heart’s deep bed. The sparring Beatrice and Benedick are not the greatest Shakespearean couple just because of their “merry war,” though the felicity of their wit is unparalleled. It’s also because they have their reasons.

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