Frank sex talk
“…the director Chris Abraham has left the original setting pretty much alone, though his version of 16th-century Sicily has a stronger than usual commedia dell’arte accent.
Beaty’s Beatrice is notably more heartful than most, not so guarded about the love she feels for Benedick (Graham Abbey) despite their professed mutual disaffection. And Abbey’s Benedick, though sharp-tongued, is a superbly rendered goofball, an overgrown bro who doesn’t know how to get serious about what he wants.
A new prologue, spoken by Beatrice in a reasonably supple pentameter, tells us, among other things, that in Elizabethan London, “nothing” was slang for “vagina,” thus altering the thrust of the play’s title. And in a revamped final scene, Shields bears down on the harm done to women by male paranoia, the cure for which must be liberation.
Since that theme already underlies the play, it hardly needs the underlining; Abraham’s production gets to the same point quite handily on its own. Still, I found Shields’s additions droll, and possibly useful as a kind of welcome, for those not expecting such rutting from Shakespeare, to the three hours of frank sex talk, or at least sex puns, that have always been hiding there in plain sight.”
[Note: this review is part of a collection in the CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK]Read Full Review08/29/2023