By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
This makes the choice of irony-laden melancholy music a particularly deft juxtaposition that slathers on emotive texture like linseed oil on a raw wooden cabinet.
There's much to admire in this ornate production, yet I was more smitten with a version of the same play over the summer in Griffith Park, in the open air, and also with music, presented by Independent Shakespeare Company: no stars, scant decoration and no shift of locale, as at the Douglas, suggesting some other place neither defined historically nor ill-defined.
Over at Griffith Park, there were costumes, hinting at Messina, Italy, of the 1500s rather than Messina, Calif., in some zone straddling the 19th and 21st centuries.
ISC's production possessed a combination of scrappiness and spontaneity, as though some of the incidental characters were charging down to some 20-yard line of a football field, diving to catch a pass — a line, an insult, a quip — thrown from midfield. When the line was received, it felt like a kind of miracle. Repartee by our Troubadour Theater Company has this same quality, which is what happens when an ensemble gets to play together for a long time.
The exchanges here, often laced with charm and humor, are comparatively mannered, with excellent actors who know the play better than they know each other, or so it appears. The charm has been sculpted in rehearsal rather than simply springing out from experience. The one exception is when the musicians interplay with the actors, in moments that are especially lovely.
The issue isn't some mandate to artificially reinterpret the play but to fulfill the promise of a shift in locale, and then to show the play as though it's unfolding for the very first time.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING | By WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE | Presented by THE SHAKESPEARE CENTER OF LOS ANGELES | KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City | Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 2 & 8 p.m. | Through Dec. 19 | (213) 628-2772