Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Much Ado About Nothing / New York Shakespeare Festival |
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Sam Waterston, Kathleen Widdoes, Barnard Hughes, Charles Bartlett, Frederick Coffin
Director: Nick Havinga
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
Television adaptation of Shakespeare's romantic comedy where a loving couple are torn apart by a false accusation and a bickering couple are brought together by friendly plotting. — Genre: Performing Arts - Theater — Rating:... more »
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Shakespeare Meets the Old West
G. vonDuering | SF Bay Area, CA United States | 12/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this version of Much Ado about Nothing in the '70's, and have remembered it ever since, so I was delighted when the Broadway Theatre Archive made it available again. The setting, the "Rough Riders" era of the turn of the century, somehow suits the material better than any other I've seen, in particular Dogberry and his inept Watchmen, who appear here as Keystone Kops. Sam Waterston and Kathleen Widdoes are both completely believable, and the supporting cast is excellent.This version is for those who want to savor every moment of the play. As far as I could tell, it includes almost every word of Shakespeare's text, and to that are added quite a few sequences without dialogue, making the entire length of the production closer to three hours than to two. For this play, this is definitely to my taste, but may not be to everyone's.The DVD includes nothing but the performance and scene selections (by acts only). Since this play was originally filmed for television, the visual and sound quality are not exceptional, although they're not actually bad."
Playful reworking of one of the Bard's best comedies
Charles S. Houser | Binghamton, NY | 12/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this version of one of Shakespeare's "war of the sexes" comedies when it was first broadcast on television in 1970. I was immediately won over to the idea that an intelligent director and ensemble could do a lot to make Shakespeare accessible to a new generation by simply setting his plays in a different era. The turn-of-the-century American setting worked perfectly. The women challenge male authority by sneaking a smoke, Dogberry and his entourage are portrayed as Keystone cops. The cast was excellent. Kathleen Widdoes and Sam Waterson were equally convincing in their gender battles, their self-righteous moments, and in their tender love scenes.What struck me on my recent viewing was just how dark this comedy gets. Claudio is easily convinced of his fiancee's infidelity and publicly humiliates her and repudiates his vows. Although everything, and everyone, is reconciled in the end, we realize that the turf between true heroes and true villains is amply populated with fools, wimps, and cads.Athough this is more of a filmed stage production than a movie version of the play, it is cleverly filmed and engaging. Personally, I prefer this version to Branaugh's filmed version (which I enjoyed immensely but felt it was less faithful to Shakespeare's text.) Unfortunately, there are no real DVD extras to this landmark production; but the performance is worth the purchase price."
Jaunty introduction to MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
classic movie fan | St. Cloud, outside Paris, France | 06/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was one of the 20 million viewers watching the original production on tv -- and fell in love with the show. The idea of updating the play to turn of the century America was a lot of fun - plus the addition of period music and beautiful costumes.
Thought the leading players - Beatrice Widdowes and Sam Waterston were excellent in their parts -- and Barnard Hughes as Dogberry the Constable was delightful.
The only reason I watched this production in the first place was the idea that a Shakespearean play had been updated to "modern" times...I usually avoided the Bard's plays - not my cup of tea..but this production was a joy from beginning to end.
I also highly recommend the Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version -- a visual feast for the eyes -- and it keeps up the interest."
Authentic version of Much Ado About Nothing
Carol Mello | San Jose,CA USA | 03/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since I wrote a scathing review of the 1993 movie version of "Much Ado About Nothing" (directed by Kenneth Branagh) and recommended this version instead, I feel I ought to review this version and give it a well deserved boost. If you like your Shakespeare authentic, this is the version you should buy.
I love Shakespeare. I have seen his plays performed on the stage, on TV, and in the movies. The best productions of Shakespeare are stage productions -- these are the closest to the way the plays would have been done if you had been alive to see one in Elizabethan times. If you cannot make it to a stage production, this version in the next best thing.
Because Shakespeare is dead and the copyright has run out on his plays hundreds of years ago, producers and directors can take any liberties they want when putting on one of Shakespeare's plays. Sometimes the liberties add to the play and sometimes they detract. All of the liberties that Joseph Papp has taken are comic and add to this version.
An example of a good interpretation: I saw a stage version of "The Taming of the Shrew" at ACT in San Francisco in the 70s. At the end of Act V, as Kate puts her hand under Petruchio's foot following her famous "duty of a wife" speech, she turns aside to the audience and broadly winks -- turning a misogynistic speech into a sly triumph for women. The audience roared with delight.
In this version, Joseph Papp has moved "Much Ado About Nothing" to around the 1900s. Beatrice is a suffragette. Benedick is one of Teddy Roosevelt's rough riders. The result is a witty war of the sexes. Slapstick scenes are added by including the Keystone Kops.
Because this is a stage version, it does not contain the beautiful Italian scenery that takes up so much air time in Kenneth Branagh's 1993 movie version. What the heck Branagh's beautiful Italian scenery has to do with Shakespeare is a mystery to me. In Branagh's version Shakespeare's lines are cut to make room for both the scenery and the extremely slow recitation of the lines that remain.
In Joseph Papp's version, the dialog is fast so people who have not read an annotated version of the play first may not be able to keep up. (See negative review below.) However, Shakespearean plays should have fast dialog -- that is the way the Bard wrote it to be played.
Shakespearean comedies are meant to be light and madcap, with mistaken identities and cross-dressing and outright clowning. This is what appealed to audiences around 1600. A good modern version of a Shakespearean comedy compares well to a Monty Python movie in silliness.
There are no big name stars in this version (although I have always been fond of Sam Waterson). The conversations between Benedick and Beatrice are all the more wittier for their rapid fire delivery. (There's something about a slow delivery that flattens out the wit.)
This is a version of "Much Ado About Nothing" that Shakespeare himself would have heartily approved of and enjoyed. I hope you enjoy it too."