A Star Danced And Under That I Was BornSunday, June 13, 2010
Benedick: “No the world must be peopled.”
William Shakespeare - Much Ado About Nothing
Saturday was a day that started well and ended well. I took some iPhone snapshots of Lauren in the garden who has been recently telling me proudly that I no longer have to worry about her closing her eyes. In the evening Rebecca and I went to the inaugural performance of Bard on the Beach’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Rebecca is still too young to take advantage of a tradition that Rosemary and I have of reading the chapter on the Shakespeare play we are about to see in Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human. I could have told Rebecca to expect that the best role would be Beatrice played by a superb Jennifer Lines. Bloom says that Much Ado About Nothing , “…is not one of Shakespeare’s comic masterworks.” This amateur would agree but I would add that the play is worth seeing simply to watch and listen to the dialogue between Beatrice and her reluctant husband-to-be, Benedick, ably played by John Murphy. The rest of the cast, as good as it is, is simply there to carry the plot. Of this play Bloom says:
Shakespeare’s inventive exuberance in Much Ado is lavished upon Beatrice who is a solitary eminence in the play. Benedick, the audience sympathetically feels, does his best to keep up, while Dogberry (alas) seems to me one of Shakespeare’s few failures as a comedy. The Dogberrian malapropisms constitute only one joke, which is repeated too often to be funny.
I would strongly disagree with Bloom’s opinion on Dogberry who is a hapless and rather stupid constable played superbly by Simon Bradbury (shades of the Subhuman's Wimpy-Roy). Bradbury spins and struts like a most fearsome British parade master sergeant and who has a tendency to slip on stair steps. Rebecca and I both laughed and laughed. Rebecca has told me that she wants to see all of Shakespeare’s comedies but wants to skip the tragedies. I think that this particular comedy which has some serious, while witty dialogue, will perhaps tempt her to see some of the tragedies.
We brought a blanket. After the interval Rebecca told me, “How nice it is to be here and to wrap ourselves together with the blanket. I like this kind of theatre.” And so do I.
I was a bit confused when the play started with some fine flamenco dancing and the flamenco theme persisted throughout the play. How could the Italians in Messina dance flamenco in WWI? It took me a while to figure it all out. The original play had the Spaniards (after all there is Don John, seen here, left, as played by Parnelli Parnes, and Don Pedro, Martin Sims is the Prince of Aragon) in Southern Italy when they were, indeed in Southern Italy. This production moves the action from Shakespeare's time to the beginning of the 20th century. Rebecca particularly liked the spiffy uniforms.
When the play ended she pointed at a girl slightly younger than she and told me, “I heard her say to her mother that she wanted to sleep in tomorrow. I think I will do the same.”
D. Pedro. Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour.
Beatrice. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born. Cousins, God give you joy!