The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1781 Thursday, 21 October 1999.
Date: Wednesday, 20 Oct 1999 10:02:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Long Wharf Theatre Production of Much Ado
I did not see the Long Wharf production, but I saw the current
production (which was very good) of Much Ado at The Repertory Theatre of
St. Louis, and it seems to have a mild conceptual similarity with the
production you describe. Like the Long Wharf production, the St. Louis
Much Ado was set in 1918 at the close of WW1.
A FASCINATING choice was made with Don John here: when he enters with
the rest of the soldiers in 1.1, he is wearing military dress from WW1,
covered by a brown leather trench coat. He stands off to the side,
keeping his arms crossed and inside his trench coat. When Leonato
approaches him with "Let me bid you welcome...," he holds out his hand
to shake Don John's hand. Don John replies with his "I thank you," and
then extends his arm, which reveals a bandage covering an amputated
limb, obviously a war wound.
Very effective. It gives John's villainy a needed explanation, for the
first time in any production I have seen of the play, produced a genuine
empathy for him.