Theatre puts a Spanish spin on Shakespeare

Michael Anschutz

Topeka Civic Theatre is endeavoring to conquer the challenge of Shakespeare with their production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The play’s five acts tell a tale two couples finding love despite the forces of villainy and their own pride.

This production is set during Spain’s 1939 civil war.

The choice fit well with the play’s themes and plot in several ways. Notably, it provided a context for soldiers as in the original which was appreciated continuity.

Aesthetically the Spanish culture added to the dramatic, heightened type of romantic love of the play. A vibrant villa courtyard mirrored the idealized sort of love the characters fall into.

The quick witted duo of Beatrice and Signor Benedict, played by Maeghan Bishop and Danny Lassley, respectively, delivered with their physical comedy and haughty interactions with each other.

Especially funny was the crew of the night watch. Led by Dogberry, played by Ted Shonka, they each played the bumbling peasant well by adding their own quirks and Shonka’s performance really embraced the character’s ridiculousness.

These lighthearted scenes also provided a nice contrast for a surprisingly impactful scene. I was surprised how uncomfortable I found myself during a scene where Leonato’s daughter is accused of sleeping with men other than her fiancé.

For any looking for an introduction to Shakespeare and/or a fun show, this production delivers.

Rating: 4/5 stars