- Reporters Desk
By John Farrell
Does Shakespeare need help?
Better Than Shakespeare certainly thinks so. For its inaugural production Much Ado About Something they have taken Much Ado About Nothing, kept much of the comedy, and added an alien invasion to the mix, making a delightful interpretation of the play that uses much of Shakespeare but adds a little more.
For purists the play might be sacrilege, but for the audience it is a lot of fun, even if the original is better, — one of Shakespeare’s best.
Written by Megan Kelly and Kate Grabau and William Shakespeare (and how nice it must be to have billing above the Bard!) the play takes just over an hour, from alien invasion to the final love scenes.
Adam Grabau is Benedick, handsome and, just maybe, in love with Beatrice (Grabau). The love scenes between the two are as dynamic as in the original. Never have two lovers seemed less suited to each other, — never. In this play (both the original and this version) the wit used leads to an eventual and happy ending.
Giselle Gilbert is Hero, the young and innocent (and beautiful) betrothed to the enraptured Claudio (Seamus Sullivan). Much happens before the couple is united, principally by Don John (Arthur King,) bastard brother of Don Pedro (Satchell Dennis). Dogberry, officer of the watch (Jay Lee) finds out Don John’s perfidy and announces it to the court of Messina, but in this version he ends up dead. The messenger (Evan Smith) is the only person who has seen the aliens, and it isn’t until the play’s end that he convinces everyone of their reality, and they are destroyed. Smith brings much fun to his role, never convincing anyone but himself until the very end.
The play is fast and furious but contains, in a shortened version, much of the original’s wit and energy, which is captured by the cast. It’s a fun and breezy introduction to this classic work and, for all but the most intransigent critics, it is a lot of fun.
Tickets are $12. Performances are Thursday, June 19 and Saturday, June 21 at 10 p.m.
Details:(323) 455-4585; www.hollywoodfringe.org
Venue: Theater Asylum at The Elephant Space
Location: 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles