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Isherwood praises the Festival’s Shakespeare productions: “Henry V“: one of the finest Shakespeare productions from Mr. McAnuff. “Cymbeline“: a madcap mash-up of Shakespearean elements. “Much Ado About Nothing“: A sustained sense of boisterous humor pervades Mr. Newton’s production.
“This production takes its primary cue from what is usually treated as secondary: the Claudio-Hero plot. And while the resulting comedy is less-funny than Much Ado usually is, its laughs echo deeper in the belly.”
Slotkin, formerly a regular on CBC radio, covers Much Ado About Nothing and Cymbeline. On Much Ado Slotkin notes “Christopher Newton’s production to be dull, often unfunny, clumsily directed, with lots of subtext getting away from him or ignored.”
The review covers Cymbeline, Much Ado About Nothing and The Matchmaker, opening with strong praise: “It’s not often that a Stratford Festival opening week hits the bull’s eye as decisively as it has with the three plays that have launched its 60th season.”
“Director Christopher Newton has imported many Shaw Festival hallmarks — boaters, pianos, dances — but what stays with me more is the way this Much conjures up everything from Taming of the Shrew to The Winter’s Tale to Measure for Measure (the fantastical duke of dark corners).”
“Newton’s production is pretty straightforward, rising and falling on the strength of individual performances….veteran James Blendick adds yet another over-embroidered performance to his resume and Richard Binsley blessedly undersells his performance as the misspoken Dogberry — a boon, at least to those of us rarely amused by this particular buffoon.
Cudworth notes that Carlson performs with the kind of authority and variation displayed by the late William Hutt, she writes “He routinely turns in memorable performances with an ease and clarity rarely seen. Last night’s performance was no exception.”
Nestruck writes that Deborah Hay “hits a new career high with her poignant portrait of a woman who hides personal pain and a desperate need for love behind a sharp and sassy exterior.” Tyrone Savage and Juan Chioran are also noted for giving excellent performances.
“Watching the two actors play off each other is the high point of this production, as they do a ‘will they or won’t they’ dance that Hollywood rom-coms could learn from….The comedy would make this an ideal first show for a younger crowd, especially those who may not have much exposure to Shakespeare.”
“Newton’s production is not radical, but dependable and sure-footed. It doesn’t shy away from the hue of bitterness that seeps into the play’s robust comedy. Carlson & Hay anchor a solid cast featuring James Blendick as Leonato and Juan Chioran as Don Pedro. Gareth Potter exercises enviable restraint as the slimy Don John and Richard Binsley’s Dogberry is less over the top than often portrayed.”
“There’s enough goodies to push this show into your “ought to see it” category, but there’s also enough things that shouldn’t have gotten by the Theatre Police. The first question to be asked is: why is this show set in Brazil around the turn of the 20th century?…”