Photos – Tony Rive (Trigger Point Photography)
“Much Ado About Nothing: The Rock Opera” would have been a more apt title for Bravehearts, the Australian Shakespeare Company’s Young Ensemble’s performance. Imagine staging “Rock of Ages” with Shakespearean language and you get the idea. One of the Bard’s most loved comedy’s, the clever dialogue, black and white hero’s and villains, (mind the pun) and the witty banter between Beatrice and Benedick always make Much Ado About Nothing an enjoyable performance.
I had the pleasure of seeing Bravehearts perform Romeo & Juliet several years ago, and they impressed with their honest performance of the text. At the time I thought this was due to their age, and the concept of having Romeo & Juliet being played by actors who were the correct age of the tragic lovers that made the performance so appealing. I had wondered that if with a more “adult” play the same effect could be achieved.
Happily it was, the Bravehearts cast of mostly high school students embraced the play with so much enthusiasm and energy that the playful nature of the text became ever more so.
Mia Landgren as the fiery Beatrice brought a vitality and innocence to the role I have not seen before. Playing against the disarmingly charming Otis Elston as Benedick, the pair played their love/hate relationship with sweet sincerity.
Credit must be given to the hapless villains Borochia (Kirily Greenbank) and Conrade (Andie Dircks), who in their goth/punk outfits, rocked the stage and caused many laughs with their shenanigans.
Having such a wonderful script as Much Ado About Nothing is not always a blessing. The pressure of bringing weight to Shakespeare’s text when it has been performed many times before can make the dialogue stale and uninspired. Bringing in such a strong musical element to the 16th Century play was the perfect way to remain honest to the text and yet updating it for both the performers and the audience. The musical interludes gave deeper insight into the characters and showed off their exceptional singing talents as well.
Much Ado About Nothing is an example of the enormous talent of the Australian Shakespeare Company’s Ensemble. Shakespeare remains as popular as ever and programs like Bravehearts are breathing new life into the Bard’s words so beautifully and with such conviction that they are ensuring that each new generation will have the opportunity to learn and perform some of the most beautiful language ever written.
These are the stars of the future, Bravehearts will blow you away with their courage, energy and maturity, and I for one, can’t wait to see what they do next.
Bravehearts: the Australian Shakespeare Company’s Young Ensemble presents
Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St Melbourne
Dates: 11 – 14 April, 2013
Bookings: 1300 122 344