Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-04-01
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER REVIEW Much Ado About Nothing
by Karen Topham

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: William Shakespeare

At: Oak Park Festival Theatre, 167 N. Forest Ave, Oak Park. Tickets: . Price: $15-35. Runs through: Aug. 31

It's Shakespeare versus an army of cicadas at Oak Park Festival's Much Ado About Nothing and, at least for the first half hour or so, the insects clearly have the upper hand.

As the expositional scenes of the play set up the comedy and the conflicts, the audience strains to hear the actors over the cacophony from the trees. Once darkness falls and the bugs go to sleep, though, things clear up and everyone can settle into enjoying an evening with Beatrice and Benedick and the rest of the denizens of Messina in a play both rife with hilarious verbal banter and burdened by seriously outmoded gender politics.

Director Melanie Keller shares my concerns about the play's treatment of its young heroine Hero ( Tina El Gamal ), the victim of an evil trick by Don John ( Bret Tuomi, who also shines as Dogberry, one of the Bard's most iconic clowns ). John convinces the men in Hero's life, including her fiancé Claudio ( Ian Michael Minh ), that she is unfaithful, rendering her unworthy of marriage. One can't blame a 16th Century playwright for adhering to a 16th Century perspective about women, though Claudio's decision to "shame her" in public at their would-be wedding has always struck me as especially harsh. It certainly feels that way here, as Minh goes off on her like a rocket while poor Hero, who doesn't even know what is going on, crumbles in pain and even her father Leonato ( Patrick Blashill ) doesn't know what to think.

At least Keller is careful to empower the women here as much as it is possible to do so. Ursula, Leonato's sister ( Noelle Klyce ) fiercely advocates for her niece. Margaret, Hero's lady in waiting ( Lizzy Bourne ), is given the full breadth of her witty rejoinders. And of course Beatrice herself ( Eunice Woods ) is easily a match for Benedick's ( Bryan Wakefield ) often caustic but always piquant and amusing put-downs.

Although the story of Claudio and Hero takes up considerably more space in the play, it is Benedick and Beatrice that everyone remembers most. Done well, the banter between these two, as well as the jovial game played by the others that gets them to fall in love, makes for a perfect distraction and counter to the other subplot. Wakefield and Woods work well in these roles, more than capable of delivering their characters' biting lines and likable enough that it's easy to want them to get together. In addition, Wakefield's comic mannerisms add physical humor to Benedick's droll tongue, and Keller creates some very funny blocking as each of them tries to keep hidden to listen to people talking about them. Between them and the malaprop-ridden Dogberry, Shakespeare keeps the audience laughing despite the play's darker center.

Oak Park's Much Ado, despite the cicadas and other occasional issues with lighting and sound, is a very enjoyable evening under the August stars. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and maybe a bottle of wine; you'll have a great time.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Virtual reading of Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons April 16 2020-04-03 - In honor of Terrence McNally, who recently passed away at age 81 of complications from COVID-19. Four actors, each participating from a remote ...

Gay News

Arts for Illinois launches with grants for artists, groups 2020-04-01 - Arts Alliance Illinois joined Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in launching Arts for Illinois—a collaboration between the State of ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Methtacular! 2020-04-01 - Playwright: Steven Strafford Via: 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn. Tickets: 708-795-6704 or; . $12 per person/on your honor. Available through: ...

Gay News

Court Theatre reschedules The Gospel at Colonus to the 2020-2021 season 2020-03-31 - Chicago, IL - Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director, announces ...

Gay News

THEATER Mourning Terrence McNally 2020-03-30 - The prolific Emmy and Tony Award-winning writer Terrence McNally passed away at the age of 81 in Florida at a Sarasota hospital on ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Teenage Dick 2020-03-27 - Playwright: Mike Lew At: Theater Wit ( on line streaming only ) Tickets:; $28. Runs through: April 19 In a ...

Gay News

Raven Theatre postpones world premiere of Eden Prairie, 1971 due to COVID-19 2020-03-26 - CHICAGO ( March 25, 2020 ) — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Raven Theatre today announced it will postpone its upcoming world ...

Gay News

Tony Awards to be postponed; no new date set 2020-03-25 - The 74th Annual Tony Awards—scheduled to air live on CBS on Sunday, June 7 from New York's Radio City Music Hall—has been postponed ...

Gay News

'Around Broadway' to honor high-school musical-theater students 2020-03-25 - Broadway In Chicago has announced its new social-media program, "Around Broadway in 80 Days." In the wake of the cancellation of The Jimmy ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Terrence McNally dies of coronavirus complications at 81 2020-03-24 - Terrence McNally—a four-time Tony winner who wrote musicals and plays such as Ragtime, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Full Monty and Kiss of the ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.