Much Ado About Nothing

Theatre doesn't get any better than sitting under the stars and seeing the secrets of Shakespeare unlocked by a series of insightful directorial choices and exemplary performances, which is exactly what you experience with this delightful comedy.

Geoffrey Kent as Benedick and Karen Slack as Beatrice
Geoffrey Kent as Benedick
and Karen Slack as Beatrice
Photo: Kira Horvath, CU Communications
To the contemporary ear, Much Ado About Nothing is arguably the most accessible play in the canon, but there are a number of challenges in the script that must be solved to fully realize its satiric potential, all of which are met by director Lynne Collins' fresh approach.

By mapping the play to the 1930's in Barcelona, Collins evokes much of the atmosphere of the original 17th century Italian Mediterranean setting while spicing it up with sound designer Kevin Dunayer's tasty Flamenco segues and Clare Henkel's smart period costumes.

Ben Bonenfant as Claudio and Caitlin Wise as Hero
Ben Bonenfant as Claudio
and Caitlin Wise as Hero
Photo: Kira Horvath, CU Communications
But the biggest payoff to this clever overlay of Southern European cultures that thrived 250 years apart is the opportunity it provides Collin's talented cast to stretch the playwright's rich characterizations to their motivational conclusions, thereby maintaining the comedic dynamics of the main plot (human foibles in love, wooing, and marriage) despite the serious conflicts that bubble up from the subplot (jealousy, deception, and sexism).

Karen Slack, as the razor-tongued Beatrice, and Geoffrey Kent, as the acerbic bachelor Benedick, effortlessly capture the battle-hardened familiarity and wit of the bard's most linguistically combative couple and their priceless repartee and dalliance. The couple's masterly and distinctive scansion—Slack with the arabesques and Kent with the pregnant pause—physical punctuation, charisma, and chemistry, make for a memorable evening.

Sam Gregory, as Leonato, the governor on whose estate the action takes place, balances the worldly and hospitable nature of an avuncular patrician with the rigidity of Old World authoritarianism and honor-drenched protocol.

The rustics who unravel the dastardly plot that threatens the marriage of Leonato's daughter, Hero, to the brave and handsome young soldier, Claudius, are led by one of the most famous clowns in literature, Dogberry.

While we have seen many funny interpretations of this colorful constable, an oddball combination of malapropisms and courtly nonsense, Chip Persons' bandolier-crested caricature brings unsurpassed clarity to Dogberry's addled and repetitious thought patterns, raising the laugh level to new heights.

The supporting cast is generally strong, with some of the minor characters leaving room to develop as the run progresses. You may never see a better production of this classic.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Lynne Collins, runs in repertory with Hamlet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and To Kill A Mockingbird through August 9th in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre at the University of Colorado. 303-492-0554 or at

Bob Bows


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