Directed by Denise Devin, (director of ZJU’s amazing production of “Hamlet”) created amazing twists with this production. First, the play starts off with a hysterical overture that the entire cast pantomimes the play sequences that is about to unfold. It has the traditional fast-paced Charlie Chaplin-style silent movie. It was incredibly fun to watch!
Amir Khalighi plays Benedick who has a charming, quick-witted humor involving his dislike of his woman. His coy yet flirty performance makes for fun and energy for Jennifer Kenyon playing his opposite, Beatrice. Amir and Jennifer have a great time with the angry, funny, denial, cat-and-mouse games they play on each other. They delight in each other’s angst.
Most of the confusion is the direct cause of the plotting of ‘lies’ by Sarah Fairfax, Gino Costabile and Philip Rodriguez, playing Leonata, Don Pedro and Claudio respectively. The amazing emotional range and facial energy that Philip gave his Claudio was a pure comedy delight. Hense was the same for the magical web of words that Sarah uses to spin Shakespeare’s canvas. A real force to watch her work. Philip and Sarah have great chemistry on stage.
Another standout performance was Nicholas Thurkettle as Dogberry, the constable with a weird and hysterical quirk of ‘flipping out’ in the middle of his thoughts. Nicholas also doubles as the calm and more sedate Friar Francis who is much more normal. His cohort-in-law was played quite humorously by Joe Desoto.
Claudio’s love interest Hero is played eloquently by Stephanie Ogden. Lauren Parkinson as Margaret plays her best friend quite sharply and emotionally supports her friend to the end. Denise Rocard, who plays another court member also doubles as a hysterical sidekick of the constable.
J. Van Auken plays Don John an angry brother of Don Predro who plots, lies and ends up getting his Shakespearian comeuppance. Watch his face and his anger, it was quite funny. Mark Lindquist does a wonderful job at playing the drunken liar Borachio.
Looking for another “Shakespeare Light” evening? There is nothing better than Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre to fill the bill. You have some great direction, colorful costumes designed by Denise Devin and Jennifer Holloway and some really funny performances to make you laugh out loud even 400 years later! This one is for the whole family. Find them at http://nohoartsdistrict.com/index.php/theatre-guide/theatres-in-north-hollywood/zombie-joes-underground-theatre-group/much-ado-about-nothing
Pic 1 TOP: Nicholas Thurkettle, Amir Khalighi, Gino Costabile, MID: Philip Rodriguez, Stefanie Ogden, Jennifer Kenyon, Denise Rocard, BOT: J. Van Aukin, Lauren Parkinson, Sarah Fairfax,
Pic 2 Lauren Parkinson, Jennifer Kenyon, Stefanie Ogden, Denise Rocard, INSET LEFT- Nicholas Thurkettle, J. Van Aukin INSET RIGHT- Philip Rodriguez, Amir Khalighi, INSET M- Lauren Parkinson, Marc Lindquist