Much Ado About Shinies

Posted on 16/07/2013 by

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So yesterday I celebrated Bastille Day* by going to see Much Ado About Nothing. What do these two things have in common? Absolutely nothing. But as I usually celebrate Bastille Day by forgetting it entirely** I feel this is a step forward.

And Much Ado was hilarious.

Of Shakespeare’s plays it is, oddly enough, the one I have seen performed the most times. Oddly, because I prefer the tragedies but productions of this play seem to wander into my orbit regularly. My favourite version up to this point was one that was framed as a sort of battle of the bands and had everyone singing really terrible goofy love songs to one another.

Whedon’s version (although without hilarious musical accompaniment) was incredibly well done and is my favourite thus far.

But I am a plain dealing villain.

Film poster for Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing". A black and white image of a man in a pool, only head and shoulders visible, he's wearing a snorkel and mask and holding a half-full martini glass.

Filmed in black and white, the film creates a believable alternate version of the modern day*** filled with the most engaging versions of these characters I have ever seen. I have never before loved Leonato but Clark Gregg’s interpretation made me do just that. And while I usually find Claudio to be a rather brainless idiot Fran Kranz’s Claudio was incredibly sympathetic, so even while I disagreed with his choices I felt for him.

The visual humour that accompanies the words is what really elevates a rendition of this play and the (unsurprisingly) magnificent cast of this movie did a brilliant job of it. The byplay between Dogberry and Verges (Nathon Fillion and Tom Lenk) was particularly notable as was the background show of Benedict and Beatrice (Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker) when they are eavesdropping on their friends.

In short: find somewhere that’s showing Much Ado and go see it. It’s well worth your time.

 

* Vive la révolution!

** I am pretty sure the mariachi band at the tequila bar wasn’t aware it was Bastille Day at all. Which is sad for them. The French restaurant opposite had a handle on it though. They had balloons and everything.

*** Excepting one jarring moment where Whedon clearly decided to back the original text even though in a modern context the joke is really inappropriate. I think I understand why they did it and there was a sort of visual acknowledgement of how ridiculous it was, but I’d have felt better if they’d skipped that line.

 

Posted in: Kandace