[Ansteorra] Theatre Review: "Much Ado About Nothing" (Aster Theatre, Bjornsborg, October 19)

Stephen Macthomas macthomas at houston.rr.com
Mon Oct 21 15:10:49 PDT 2002

(I'll leave good Cynric to the flowery speech.  I'll just stick to the cut
and dried theatre review, something I'm obviously good at since I've never
done it before in my life.)

Recently I traveled to the Barony of Bjornsborg, where I was able to catch
the premiere of the Baron's Men's production of William Shakespeare's comedy
Much Ado about Nothing.  The title of the production is in complete contrast
to the production itself.  This was some ado about something, all right.

The stage of the beautiful Aster Theatre was very well lit - it wasn't until
I went forward to greet the cast that I was aware that artificial lighting
was being used.  The musicians were spectacular and added precisely the
right flavor and atmosphere to the evening - using the authentic music from
the premiere went far to help with that.  The costumes were beautiful and
stunning - given the The script was very well delivered - I only caught one
or two points where a line was even given in hesitancy, and at no point did
I, sitting in the very back, fail to hear a thing.  The blocking was very
effective and, in one memorable case, nothing short of inspired and
brilliant (though Jovian may have a few special reminders of his
experience - I hope he's OK after a couple night's rest).  Even the scene
changes were fun to behold, and the stage crew who so very often are
literally overlooked, had their moments to shine.

But the most amazing thing of the evening occurred in the talkback with the
cast following the production.  One of those in attendance asked which of
the cast members had made their acting debut that very night, and I, having
some acting experience of my own in a younger time, expected maybe one or
two hands to go up.

I was completely unprepared for roughly two-thirds of the cast to raise
their hands.

Afterwards, I heard many people comment that "for an SCA production this
wasn't bad."  I disagree with this sentiment.  The SCA had nothing to do
with the quality of the production, and saying it "wasn't bad" is like sayin
g "Ansteorra is OK, as kingdoms go."  Let's be clear about one thing: this
production could have picked itself up, costumes, sets, music and all, and
plunked itself into any community theatre in the mundane world and received
the same standing ovation that it got Saturday evening.

Why community theatre?  Why not something bigger, on a more professional
level?  Because this Saturday evening, our friends got together and gave us
the fruition of months of planning and hard work and energy, for no more
recompense than the pleasure of entertaining their friends.  I think handing
these folks a budget and a paycheck would somehow diminish the true magic
and charm of the evening.  I can think of no better definition of community
theatre than this.  When (and hopefully not if) the Baron's Men come to make
your community theirs for a time, make sure that you're there to see their
efforts.  You'll be richly rewarded for your time.

And to the Baron's Men and all involved - thanks for one of the highlights
of the past six years.

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