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'Much Ado' gets the full Lawn treatment

Spring, as they say, is the season of love. Shakespeare on the Lawn's upcoming production of "Much Ado About Nothing" gives us a little of both.

Shakespeare's mid-career comedy looks at love and its entanglements through a more mature lens.

"With some of Shakespeare's romances, the Romeo and Juliet type, depth is lacking," said director Suzanne Platt, a third-year College student. "With Beatrice and Benedick's romance we almost get to poke fun at that kind of sham relationship. Here we have a full-bodied, colorful, love-hate relationship with real depth. It's one of the few plays of Shakespeare's that have representations of true, genuine love."

As in many of Shakespeare's romantic stories, manipulation is the name of the game - literally. Benedick (David Tyndall) and Beatrice (Sundi Yungk) tell themselves that they can't stand each other. Early in the play, witty insults fly freely between the two. But the other characters play tricks on Benedick and Beatrice in the spirit of Cupid. Before long, the pair lets down their guard and falls in love.

SOTL takes this story of romance and deception out into the night air of spring. The productions - Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and a matinee Saturday at 2 p.m. - will occur in the idyllic garden setting of the Engineering School's Thornton Courtyard.

"We're very lucky to be doing it outside," said assistant director Lucia Gajda, a fourth-year College student. "The play is very much a spring play. It's about new-found things in general, about love, and being outside under the stars is conducive to that."

Curtain Call

"Much Ado About Nothing"
Shakespear on the Lawn

Thur.-Sat., 8 p.m.: Sat., 2 p.m.

"The outdoor venue we have is gorgeous," said Tyndall, who is a fourth-year College student. "Not many people know that the Engineering School has this relaxing space in it. We'll get to act under the moon, in the middle of a beautiful garden."

The Benedick and Beatrice story takes place amidst a parallel love story between Claudio (Alex Yates) and Hero (Pam Sabella). Together, the two stories - and the deceptions and threats they survive - show enriched visions of adult relationships.

"One pair represents the innocent first love that I'm sure nearly everyone has experienced at some point," Gajda said. "The other pair is more experienced, more sexual, more adult. Together, they cover more ground."

As with all SOTL productions, admission to "Much Ado" is free. The company is committed to bringing Shakespeare's plays to audiences that might not otherwise see them.

"For people who don't know Shakespeare, I think this play is the best possible introduction they could get," Platt said. "It shows a good balance of comedy and tragedy and lets people have fun."

The actors seek to prove that Shakespeare isn't archaic, required reading. His plays remain relevant and alive today, over 400 years after their first performance.

"Shakespeare on the Lawn does comedy really well, and this is one of the more fast-paced and upbeat of Shakespeare's comedies," Gajda added. "It's relatively easy to follow."

SOTL is committed to demonstrating this belief that Shakespeare can be enjoyable. "Much Ado" is the last in a string of comedies that the group has put on over the last three years, including "The Tempest," "Twelfth Night" and "As You Like It."

"Next year we'll be doing 'Othello' and 'King Lear,' so this is sort of our chance to have a good time and let our audience have a good time with Shakespeare before we move on to telling them about mortality, death and depression," Tyndall said.


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