TAMPA — Sometimes nothing means everything, and everything means nothing, and there's much ado about it. From the schemes and quarrels to comedic commentary on love, Jobsite Theater's production of Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing captures the vulnerabilities of human emotion and error.
Underneath multicolored lit lanterns and tree branches strung from the rafters, the cast of 10 performed to a nearly sold out show Sunday afternoon.
The play follows the tumultuous paths of two couples, young and romantic Hero and Claudio, and the middle-aged Benedick and Beatrice, and the drama that ensues when other characters conspire to divide or unite them.
Hero, the innocent virgin, with braided hair and a pastel pink gown, is to marry the baby-faced Claudio as arranged by matchmaker Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon. Pedro pairs up with Leonato, Hero's father, and Claudio to trick Benedick, the self-proclaimed bachelor brimming with wit, into falling in love with the merry-hearted Beatrice, Hero's cousin.
Much Ado About Nothing is much a play of eavesdropping and overreacting. The folly of falling into traps and creating them serves as the backbone of the comedy, as does the spirit of the actors.
The jealous Claudio, played by Jonathan Cho, transformed from humble to mad to remorseful in just a few scenes. Roxanne Fay as Beatrice carried a well-crafted poise and shrew seniority over her arrogant counterpart Benedick. The seldom seen Don John, played by Michael C. McGreevy, exuded a menacing scowl and a disgruntled air fit for his villainous role. Spencer Meyers seamlessly vacillated between his roles as Balthasar, Dogberry and Friar Francis. But the real star of the show was Ned Averill-Snell as Benedick. Charisma emanated from his brazen stage presence, including an improvised moment when a board broke off the doorway as he entered. He clutched it as prop and threw it to the side like it was part of his monologue.
A rather basic stage, limited costumes and few props didn't matter, as the cast's skilled theatrics outshone the menial setup. They executed one of Shakespeare's most beloved works with all the frivolous fracas and tirades of jealousy, stubbornness and denial. Turns out, all the ado was worth something.
Stephanie Bolling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3408.