Much Ado About Nothing
One of the hallmarks of the baby boom generation seems to be how long many of them waited before settling down, so it was only a matter of time before this phenomena was given its full and glorious due in a Shakespearean setting, and the Denver Center Theatre Company's current production of Much Ado About Nothing is that tribute.
Director Nagle Jackson has chosen to cast the normally youthful roles of Beatrice and Benedick as what must pass in Elizabethan drama as middle aged. Robin Moseley, who was so poignant in last year's The Beauty Queen of Leenane, is self-assured and combative as the acid-tongued man-eater Beatrice, while local favorite Jamie Horton is comical and cocky as the ego-centric confirmed bachelor Benedick.
Vicki Smith's stylish set, evoking the imagination of Dali and the hues of Maxville Parrish, provides a timeless dreamscape for these two famous sparring partners to indulge themselves in the Bard's fun-loving and luxurious language, all the while doing their darnedest to pretend they're not attracted to one another.
Their famous battle is buoyed by a host of other fine performances, including Bill Christ's self-contained malevolence, accented by David R. White's fun-loving sound design, creating the most effective Don John in memory, and Richard Rizzo, as Dogberry, who exceeds all farcical expectations in this plum role.
Yet Jackson's direction misses opportunities to exhibit the depth of Beatrice's and Benedick's consuming interest in the gossip that eventually entraps both of them, instead only reminding us of their proximity to these conversations. Added to what appears to be some physical reticence, the tension between Moseley's and Horton's desires never seems to translate further than their intellectual attraction and into palpable chemistry.
Despite this flaw, the production's many pleasing elements, superb stage craft, and depth of talent seen particularly in the clarity of language, make for a worthwhile evening of Shakespeare. The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of Much Ado About Nothing runs through February 24th in The Stage Theatre. The box office number is 303-893-4100.