Theatricum Botanicum's summer 2014 series revives Shakespeare's battle-of-the-sexes comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, which is receiving renewed attention following Joss Whedon's black-and-white movie version last year, starring his usual actors and filmed in a setting that looks like it could be a casual reading at his own house. Apparently, Whedon and friends enjoy an evening of reading a Shakespeare play together, something easier to do probably if one's friends are actors--I've tried this with a group of lawyers with mixed results--and this is a good, undemanding choice of play, for Theatricum too, which company is mostly about the camaraderie of a long-running troupe and the pleasant setting under the oaks.
The story is about an older gentleman (Robertson Dean perfectly embodying the vain, aging Benedick) who swears he will never marry, and a younger, sharp-tongued woman (Susan Angelo fine as Beatrice) who has made the same pronouncement. Their friends successfully conspire to bring them together. In contrast, a very young couple falls in love at first sight (the comic and clever Jackie Kiikvee and Colin Simon), but are thwarted by false rumors of her infidelity. The rumors are dispelled, and both couples are--plot spoiler--married at the end!
Our group, ages eleven to it's-impolite-to-state, all had a great time and could follow the story, including a teen who had never seen a Shakespeare play before. And yes, it's like old times to see the familiar players and magical setting.
Much Ado runs through September 28, 2014 at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. 310-455-3723. www.theatricum.com www.facebook.com/theatricum