HSC's Much Ado' is done right
By LARRY PARNASS, Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 1, 1998 -- (Northampton) - The slings
and barbs of true love - a love so long unacknowledged - snap, crackle and do not flop in
the Hampshire Shakespeare Company's merry telling.
The original show about nothing is of course nothing of the sort. "Much Ado"
set the tone forever for adult tales of ardor and enmity. This wonderful local company's
rendering showcases all the things it does right, in doing Shakespeare. They love the
language and make it make sense.
They play for comedy and physicality.
And, under the direction this time of Benjamin Ware, they work a complicated story with
clockwork timing that never drags.
This is the story told, on one hand, through the tart, intellectual tongues of its
stars, Benedicke (Robert Kelker-Kelly) and Beatrice (Christine Stevens). It's also told
through the mutterings of Dogberry, one of the most comic fools in Shakespeare's universe.
In Saturday's performance, the lovers portrayed by Stevens and Kelker-Kelly made it
seem as if rabies were loose in Look Park. They went at each other from the opening,
neither wanting the other to catch the remotest breeze of flattery.
The role itself gave Kelker-Kelly, a veteran of NBC's "Days of Our Lives,"
the edge at the start. The actor exuded a powerful charisma that laid its own trap for
Beatrice. Kelker-Kelly, who is completing a degree at the University of Massachusetts,
snared his audience as well.
As Benedicke eavesdrops on friends, setting the plot's main ruse in motion,
Kelker-Kelly wound his way through the audience, playing his sneakiness for laughs chair
Stevens captured Beatrice's saber-sharp spirit wonderfully, and did so without quite
the same access to physical comedy, and sheer physical presence, that Kelker-Kelly could
The other lovers here, Claudio (Aaron Feinstein) and Hero (Miriam Parrish) walk a more
conventional line. It's a simpler lover, fulfilling, no doubt, but so light on calories,
Parrish, another veteran of the daytime soaps, was lovely and appealing.
As Claudio, Feinstein showed a war hero's acuity about the bad deal seemingly dealt him
through a betrayal, but was not showing enough Saturday how sick at heart it must have
Perhaps because it was driven by his anger and her horror, the scene in which he spurns
Hero was raw and moving.
The play's villain, Don John (Ed Dunn) showed his poisonous hand ably from the first
moments. While other regaled at an arrival, he stood hunched, with black beret low on his
Other key players here, notably Walter Carroll as Leonato and Glenn Washburn as Don
Pedro, filled out a cast as competent as any to be found, it is safe to say, in amateur
"Much Ado About Nothing" continues in two locations through July 10, with all
shows at 7 p.m. It will be staged at the Jeffery Amherst Inn in Amherst on July 2, 5, 7,
9. It will be performed in the Pines Theater at Look Park in Northampton on July 3 and 10.
The play will be performed in the 1794 Meeting House in New Salem on July 11.
Admission is $12 for adults, or $6 for children and seniors. Tickets available at the
door and at Atticus Albion Books in Amherst and Beyond Words Bookshop in Northampton. For
information, call 548-8118.
'Much Ado About Nothing'
Written by William Shakespeare
A production of the Hampshire Shakespeare Company, directed by Benjamin Ware.
Cast includes Christine Stevens, Robert Kelker-Kelly, Miriam Parrish, Aaron Feinstein,
Glenn Washburn, Ed Dunn, Walter Carroll, Kip Fonsh, Michael Chiavaroli, Dennis Heinemann,
Ijod Schroeder, Marc Morrison and Fiona Hope.
Stage manager is Janet Mankowsky; choreography by Nona Monahin; costumes designed by
© Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.