Much Ado About Nothing has nearly every Shakespearean device except murder and mistaken identity — you’ve got your jealously, your wit, your clowns, your disguises, your courtship, a couple-three marriages, and feigned death. Mostly, you’ve got your laughs, because Much Ado About Nothing, especially as played by the expert company of A Noise Within, is funny.
This light-hearted, fast-paced production, directed by Michael Murray, keeps the audience rapt as the excellent cast banters and bickers, distracting viewers from plot holes you could drive a donkey cart through. The Sicilian setting provides lively folk-dance numbers; horn-heavy music that verges on the Godfather theme; simple, sun-splashed sets; and costumes and lighting keep the focus on the play (and we do mean that in all senses of the word).
Look for hilarious physical comedy on the part of witty, sparring lovers Beatrice (Torri Higginson) and Benedick (J.D. Cullum). The effortlessly smarmy Borachio (Steve Weingartner) is a standout; the sweet young things (Lindsay Gould as Hero and Brandon Hearnsberger as Claudio) are convincing in their sudden ardor and confusion. Dogberry (Mark Bramhall), utterly dignified, utterly silly and utterly oblivious, is a delight.
The good news is that this production plays in repertory through May 21; the better news is that A Noise Within, resident in a rented space in Glendale since 1992, is making big plans to move to a permanent home in Pasadena. Groundbreaking on its new theater at Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa in the old Stuart Pharmaceuticals building, a mixed-use facility at the current terminus of the Gold Line, will begin shortly; the company plans to move to the new theater in 2011. Till then, get thee to Glendale for classic productions of old favorites.
Much Ado About Nothing
At A Noise Within
234 S Brand Blvd., Glendale
In repertory through May 21; go to anoisewithin.org or call 818.240.0910