Much Ado About Nothing | Sydney Shakespeare FestivalMuch Ado About Nothing, essentially, was and is the When Harry met Sally of the late 16th & early 17th centuries. As contemporary, timeless and enduring as it remains, somewhat newer is Sydney’s Shakespeare Festival, centred ‘round Glebe’s Bicentennial Park, sponsored by the City of Sydney (I knew Clover was good for something).

A large cast (Martin Bell, Jennifer Davis, Kurtis Gee, Penny Hall, Richard Hilliar, Shane Imbert, David Jeffrey, Cherilyn Price, Roger Adam Smith, Matthew Stewart & Deborah Thomson, under the baton, as it were, of Julie Baz), plays it for all it’s worth: a good decision was to interpolate Aussie accents (the brazen Margaret, posturing Benedick & feisty Beatrice being prime examples), which served to enhance the boisterous bawdiness of the play. Indeed, these 3 characters stole the show; (‘though that in no way diminishes the performances of their counterparts, for the most part).

The Bard, of course, milks the first half for laughs, with his trademark rapier wit & linguistic acrobatics. After intermission, however, he really ramps up the intensity & drama, bolstering what is, for want of a more apt descriptor, a romantic comedy, with characteristically incisive observations of the unreliability of character; the nature and manifestations of deceit & outright treachery; jealousy and love. Baz has clearly understood these facets and brought each off the page very successfully, indeed, in what is one of Million Dollar Bill’s most accessible theatrical ventures.

The slight threat of inclemency did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm and affection of the all-too-small crowd, which was not only for the genius of the writer, but extent to which cast and director had realized his intentions.

In short, the Sydney Shakespeare Festival, which needs to be much more aggressively publicised if it is to succeed to the deserved extent, is a precious addition to the scant presence of Shakespeare in Sydney. Stratford-Upon-Avon calling!

Sydney Shakespeare Festival presents
Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
Venue: Bicentennial Park, Glebe Foreshore 
Dates/Times: 8pm (front of house opens at 7pm) Fri, Sat, Sun, 11 Jan – 17 Feb 2008
Tickets: *$25 full, *$20 concession, FREE children 12 years and under, FREE people with disabilities, FREE people 65 years and over. *10% of every ticket sold will be donated to the Millennium Foundation for HIV research and for the first two weeks only, for every ticket purchased, the second ticket is FREE
Tickets will also be available at the door (cash only) from 7pm

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