Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

Last year I complained that Joss Whedon had short changed Amy Acker in The Cabin in the Woods. This year he has made it up to her by giving her the role of Beatrice in his Much Ado About Nothing. She is more convincing with her jibes about love and about Benedick than he is in return. But Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from Buffy and Angel) has the edge over her when it comes to being silly, especially the physically comedy in the hiding scene.

Shakespeare often puts in pantomime comedy scenes with buffoon characters. Chief buffoon in Much Ado About Nothing is Nathan Fillion as Dogberry (head of the night watch) who steals all the scenes he's in. It is a pity Shakespeare made the part of Don John (the Bastard Prince) is so small because cupcake thieving Sean Maher looks perfect as the evil schemer with Riki Lindhome, showing plenty of leg, as Conrade his sulky girlfriend.

The story goes that Joss Whedon likes to host play reading evenings for his actor friends. So as a wedding anniversary gift to himself he decided to one step further and film Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in his house, using his actor friends on the cheap. While the script is straight up Shakespeare, the setting is a Californian house party with the men in suits and the music provided by Ipods.

Initially the modern setting makes Shakespeare's language sound alien, but you quickly get used to it and find the familiar setting make it easier to understand what he was trying to say. I can see this film being used to make Much Ado About Nothing more understandable to today's school kids. Though Dogberry and his fellow watchmen seem over the top in a modern setting. There are minor changes to Shakespeare's original script, Antonio has been dropped and Conrad is now a woman.

On the other hand I don't understand the reasons for filming in black and white.

Ian's rating 3.5/5

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