Saturday, January 21, 2006

There's 'Nothing' like a mod Shakespeare

When Kenneth Branagh located his film of "Much Ado About Nothing" in sunny, sensuous Tuscany, he was not the first to move Shakespeare's witty comedy to other climes and times.

Recent productions of "Much Ado" have set the 1598 play in Latin America, the British Raj, post-World War I Sicily, Spain through the ages, a ship called the S.S. Messina and in a small-town America where Rough Riders cavorted with Keystone Kops.

The mod London of the '60s is the motif for Aquila Theatre Company's production of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."La Jolla Playhouse closes its 2005-06 season with a transplant of its own, the Aquila Theatre Company's "Much Ado," set in the mod-mod world of '60s London spy chic.

"This idea of the 1960s 'Avengers' spy thing came about when we asked ourselves what world best suits Shakespeare's play. Elizabethan England was full of intrigue like that, and the play is all about eavesdropping. We wanted the spying and the sartorial elegance," says Peter Meineck, the transplanted Londoner and former Green Beret who founded Aquila 13 years ago.

"The actors get to wear these amazing clothes from (New York design house) Beau Brummel. Posing and preening works for the play and hides what people are really thinking."

(Those "people" include Shakespeare's wittiest couple, reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick, whom Aquila has outfitted like Emma Peel and John Steed from "The Avengers" TV series. Also on hand: the melodramatic lovers Claudio and Hero, and assorted nobles and soldiers just returned from war.)

No comments: