Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Funk It Up About Nothing, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, March 3, 2011

 Funk It Up About Nothing
Based on Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare 
By Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Drum Theatre, Dandenong until April 2, 2011

If your kids (or you) can’t wrap their heads around Shakespeare’s language, Chicago Shakespeare Theater could open the door to a new understanding of the Bard. Funk It Up About Nothing is a funked up, rap version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

The structure and narrative of Shakespeare’s original, romantic-comedy is recognisable but the poetry is cleverly reconstructed into rhythmic, rap rhymes and set to a percussive, throbbing, electronic, hip-hop beat (DJ Adrienne Sanchez).

The classical characters from 16th century Messina transform into contemporary, urban, American personalities. Don Pedro (Postell Pringle OK) is a hip-hop star on tour with his crew They chill out at old Leonato’s (GQ) mansion where MC Claudio (Jackson Doran OK) falls in love with Leonato’s ditzy daughter, Hero (Jillian Burfete OK).

The strutting playboy, Benedick (JQ), spars verbally with sassy Beatrice, known as MC Lady B (Ericka Ratcliff OK). Despite mischief at the hands of the villainous Don John (GQ), the play ends happily with two marriages.

The rhyming dialogue is clever and funny, the cast versatile, and the stylistic blend of rap, physical clowning and comic wordplay creates an entertaining show to appeal to teenagers.

Although, for the first 20 minutes, the music was so loud that the dialogue was inaudible, this is Shakespeare to make you dance, clap and shout.
Stars: ***1/2

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