On Friday, Feb. 10, I had the opportunity to see the Cornell Shakespeare Troupe’s rendition of Much Ado About Nothing. This production was originally stated to debut on Dec. 2, but several unforeseen circumstances pushed the opening night back by a little over two months. The wait was worth it.
For those who are unaware of this classic Shakespearan production, as I was, let me explain what this play is about. This is a comedy wherein friends and allies try to set their other friends and allies up with one another romantically. It was an ironically appropriate play to watch the weekend before Valentine’s Day. The most important facet of any comedy is the most obvious one: it has to be funny. This cast had humor in spades. Not only was the dialogue itself humorous, but the way in which the cast played with their characters’ interactions with said dialogue is what made the entire two hour long production hilarious. One of the most prominent moments occurred when Don John, Mallory Esponda ’23, and Borachio, Joaquin Rivera ’25, entered the room snapping their fingers in order to show their malicious intent. Furthermore, the expression on Beatrice’s,Ruby Trujillo ’24, face when she was eavesdropping on those who were conspiring against her was downright hysterical. At times, even the cast themselves couldn’t refrain from laughing, as evidenced by the delightful performance of Serena Duncan ’26 on the recorder. She laughed while playing her instrument and we all laughed along with her because everyone had so much fun both on stage and in the audience. What could have been seen as hindering the performance actually served to enhance everyone’s experience and make it a uniquely wonderful experience for all of those involved.
Perhaps this is a byproduct of my time as an English major, but I truly believe that the work of William Shakespeare is timeless. With each passing generation, the language of the Bard becomes more archaic, and yet the messages continue to shine through. For better or worse, we all have been subjected to reading Shakespeare in our English classes at some point in our education. And even beyond the classroom, names such as Romeo and Juliet and phrases such as “Et tu, Brute” have made their way into our everyday lives. Yet, despite the oversaturation of Shakespeare in popular culture, it is always exciting to see how modern renditions can bring these classics to life. One of the ways that this show felt like such a perfect blend of 16th century drama and 21st century adaptation was the costumes. The standout costume for me was Prince Don Pedro, portrayed hilariously by Sophia Gottfried ’25. The decision to go with a Miami Vice-inspired look for the mischievous, yet good hearted, Prince worked so well because it didn’t detract from the novelty of a Shakespearean play, but rather it enhanced the comedy of appearances. The set itself remained minimalistic, as is custom in a black box theater such as Risley. Under the direction of Joseph Lang ’25, this production made the most out of its budget and location, and I feel confident in saying that these fine performances could not have been better than the ones that I had the privilege to watch last Friday night.
The simple fact of the matter is that this play worked. And not only did it work, but it entertained in such a complete way that one hardly noticed the two hour runtime of the show. I commend all of the members of the production, whether on stage or behind the scenes, and I certainly look forward to the next Cornell Shakespeare Troupe production. Job well done, everyone.
Tom Sandford is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]