Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum continues its "All- Shakespeare" Summer Repertory Season with Much Ado About Nothing, a romantic and witty play about “ Noting” (which is how the word “nothing” was pronounced in Shakespeare’s London)” more but the constant battle of the sexes. Shakespeare’s verbal jousts are brilliantly written and harmoniously delivered by the main characters Susan Angleo, as Beatrice and Robertson Dean, as Benedick. It is an amorous tale between these two characters, starting of as rivals ending as lovers. Angelo’s poised physical expression and Dean’s excellent vocal delivery, compliment each other splendidly on stage.
Shakespeare’s play on words remain witty and sharp, each one calculated to wound the other. His extraordinary understanding of being human reflects in the candid scene when Benedick and Beatrice separately overhear a conversation, staged by their friends, stating that they are the objects of one another’s affections.
Finally, all their animosity seems to melt away and their mutual attraction, neither one wanted to admit, comes to light.
It is false accusations, led by Don John and his watchmen Borachio and Conrade who hinder their friends and lovers Claudio and Hero to marry, unmasking Benedick’s and Beatrice’s own true love.
Claudio, played by the dashing Colin Simon, is very convincing as a young Florentine lord in love and Hero, Jackie Kiikvee, is charming as a suffering heroin having to pretend she is dead to prove her innocence and loyalty to Claudio. Hero’s father, Leonato, played by Franc Ross, is charming as the caring father and governor of Messina. He consents to the betrothal of Hero and Claudio, in spite of his awareness that Don Pedro wants his daughter. He also wants a husband for his niece Beatrice, and enters Don Pedro’s conspiracy to match her with Benedick.
Borachio seems the perfect villain and very convincing initiating the scheme. Andy Wagner as Conrade is a true follower of Don John and
Soldiers: Michael Carroll, Jordan Klomp, Kendall Linzee, Will Coweles Meyer, Ford Smith and Steve Fisher, are wickedly funny entertainment and seem like characters in a Monty Python movie. Returning from war, and hearing Conrad and Don Johns plot, they arrest the villain and obtain a confession, proving Hero’s innocence.
More false accusations, a faked death, rampant eavesdropping or ‘noting’ (which is how the word “nothing” was pronounced in Shakespeare’s London) and two weddings provide for a rich plot of twists and turns.
“Much Ado About Nothing is one of the great romance comedies,” says Ellen Geer, who co-directs with daughter Willow Geer simply carrying on a family tradition with performing and directing. The Theatricum Botanicum, nestled up in Topanga Canyon, has a long history sharing theater with the local community, stretching back to 1950 when Will Geer opened up a theater for being blacklisted and victimized by the McCarthy Era. After his passing the family started their work by creating several in-classroom enrichment programs.
Nowadays the Theatricum Botanicum is a professional repertory theater providing it’s principals with an Equity contract.
The dark, the bliss, the confusion, the hurt, the damage that gossip and jealousy in this play can do, are only the beginning of a wonderful evening under the stars. You may see a full moon peaking between the clouds and hear an owl chiming in with an actor.
You may even bring a pick-nick to enjoy with a group of friends before the show and enjoy the smell of the Eucalyptus trees.
One thing is for certain: you will discover the beauty of this spectacular outdoor amphitheater in Topanga Canyon and return to it year after year because it is one of these rare a gems in Los Angeles.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. Much Ado About Nothing opens continues through Sept. 28, running in repertory with ongoing performances of Lear, All’s Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call (310) 455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com. Tickets are $25-$37, children (7-12) $10