Happy In Bag

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Much Ado About Nothing

If only the actual production of Much Ado About Nothing, this year’s offering at Kansas City’s Shakespeare In the Park, was as good as the puppet show that precedes it.

The Paul Mesner Puppets is one of Kansas City’s treasures. And in ten minutes, his capsule introduction of the play is hysterical and insightful (pictured). The same can’t be said for the performance on the live stage nearby on Friday, June 24. Technical glitches, flat readings, inconsistent tone, a drab set, and the use of hideously unimaginative music tether the production to mediocrity.

Still, few things in life can compare to Shakespeare performed outdoors. Emergency helicopters buzzing around St. Luke’s Hospital, martins swooping at dusk, lightning bugs enchanting tired children, the glorious sound of wine bottles opening, and sublime people-watching more than compensate for any deficiencies on stage.

To be fair, it’s not all bad. Scott Cordes, my favorite regional actor, transforms the role of Dogberry into a ludicrous Three Stooges-ish buffoon. And Cinnamon Schultz, playing Hero, is always reliable as a comic. The director should encourage the rest of the cast to follow their playful leads. This isn't Hamlet, after all.

For superior drama, catch the puppets before the show. Then expand your focus to the bountiful to be found on- but mostly off- the main stage at Southmoreland Park.


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