Paige Calvert’s ’20 directorial debut of “Much Ado About Nothing” through Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, which served as her senior thesis in English, was a rousing success. Her visionary take on a play historically shrouded in misogyny and often dry performances, brought the audience of the opening night to its feet in a much-deserved standing ovation.
Calvert’s choice to readily utilize movement and dance could have flopped, but it instead felt organic and was instrumental in the storytelling she so delicately perfected. Though one of the first dance scenes read as tentative, the actors later warmed to the technique. Specifically, the dance between Juliette Mattair ’23 as Hero and Anna Canzoneri ’20 as Claudio was incredibly moving. It brought much of the audience, including myself, to tears. I would be remiss not to note the incredible voice of Gabby Garcia ’22, which she lent to that scene in a heartbreaking rendition of “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings. The modern music choices throughout the play were interesting and sometimes felt out of place, but the use of songs such as “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish proved the move was a good one.
Sarah Wendy Burman’s ’22 portrayal of Beatrice was a delight, and the sexual tension between her character and Lily Jackson’s ’20 Benedick was palpable. Jackson popped the moment she stepped on stage, and infused conflict, humor and charm for the entirety of the two-and-a-half-hour show. In the same regard, Tessa Rudolph’s ’21 portrayal of Borachio, along with the well-worn moustache, was fabulous and absolutely convincing. Sarah Quinan’s ’23 quiet rage as Imogen gave new meaning to the trope the character has been forced to embody.
The show straddled the line between comedy and tragedy with elegance. The comic relief from the darker scenes that dealt heavily with misogyny on both an individual and macro level was a respite.
Upcoming show dates are:
November 21st at 7 pm, an accessible downstairs show
November 22nd at 7 pm
November 23rd at 1:30 pm
November 23rd at 7 pm
All shows take place in Shakespeare House between the Davis Museum and Severance Hall. Tickets cost $5 for Wellesley students and $10 for non-students. Reservations can be made at tinyurl.com/shakesmuchado or purchased at the ticket table in Lulu.