Thursday, March 29, 2012

Much Ado About Estrogen

As much of a theater lover as I am, I am devoted to plays turned on their ears.

One of my all time favorite examples was seeing TheaterVirginia do an all-black version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Talk about taking Southern dysfunction to a whole new level.

Likewise, last July Firehouse did a staged reading of a gender-reversed "Hamlet," here, that I still rave to people about.

And tonight I got all those girl parts in comedic form with a gender-reversed "Much Ado About Nothing."

I knew enough to arrive by 7:00 to ensure a seat (and a good one, at that) for all the fun. It was a smart move.

"For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?"

Tonight's performance was dedicated to Freddy Kaufman, an actor who had originally been part of the cast until he took ill.

Having seen his comedic presence grace more than one stage, I appreciated the loss.

"I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue."

Molly Hood, who had played Hamlet, here deftly played the confirmed bachelor Benedick, even as he fought off feelings for the strong-willed Beatrice.

Director Billy Christopher Maupin doubled as Beatrice, as fierce a girlfriend as I've ever had.

"Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably."

Unlike the last time girls were playing boys, the crowd tonight made no obvious sounds of disbelief  when certain lines came from an unlikely face.

Granted, there are far more female characters in this play than "Hamlet," so maybe we got used to it more quickly.

"Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me."

It's difficult to make some men understand, but given how male-centric Shakespeare's plays are, it's a huge kick to see one staged with eighteen women and only four men.

With some top-notch local actresses on board, it was a pleasure to hear them speak the words of men.

"For I will be horribly in love with her," Benedick admits.

Horribly in love is so much more intense than terribly in love, I think.

"Do you not love me?"
"No more than reason."

So much of the reading was laugh-out-loud funny because of all the gender issues, relationship and love talk and the stubbornness of the unmarried.

"When I said I would a die a bachelor,  I did not think I should live till I was married."

As the actors moved around (for actors at these staged readings thankfully never actually sit and read) on stage, it was hard not to appreciate the talent involved in selling yourself as the opposite sex.

One of my favorites was Lisa Kotula as the hilarious Dogberry, he of the endless malapropisms ("Thou will be condemned into everlasting redemption for this") and usually played by someone far less attractive.

But aside from all the mistaken identities, trickery, and purported infidelity, it's really just that old chestnut of a hard-headed woman and a confirmed bachelor who are destined to be together.

It was out of their hands.

"Come, I will have thee."

By the end of the play, everyone was married so the dancing and singing began. Whether they lived happily ever after or not, we'll never know.

But surely being horribly in love is a good start.


  1. Speak low, if you speak love.

    Ah, but not as much as I loved last night's performance!