Much Ado About Nothing

Last night, Robert and I took Talking Boy to see Much Ado About Nothing.

In preparation for this we ran through the story (such as it is) a few times. Talking Boy was worried it wasn’t in “normal English”. I worried that he would talk all the way through it. We talked a bit about the theatre and seeing plays. We reassured him it was a comedy, a rom-com in fact and that he would enjoy it. (Or else I thought quietly to myself.)

Much Ado About Nothing

One sticking point was his refusal to see that this occasion required something slightly better than a dirty logo emblazoned hoodie. I suggested two alternatives and was rebuffed. Fine. (We are at the stage now that experiential learning is best, show not tell. So fine then wear your dirty old hoodie to the first grown up play of your life, see if I care!)

Talking Boy was also concerned there wouldn’t be anyone his age there. I assured him all sorts of people would be in the audience.

We arrived to a packed foyer. Two productions on the same night pretty much fills the Canberra Theatre Foyer to capacity. There were a lot of well dressed people. Man, said Talking Boy, everyone’s dressed up. I resisted the first, second, third and even fourth thing that came to my lips and instead made a bee-line for the bar. Next to me at the bar were several of Talking Boys’ mates from school.

We stood around the foyer, enjoying our drinks. Up came the Canberra Times staff photographer. Would we pose for a photo? Sure! (Who’s happy about wearing a hoodie now?) Then it was time for a quick re-cap of the story and in we went.

While everyone was being seated, Talking Boy was pretending to be a hit man and intimidating his father with his fake Ukrainian accent. The white haired gent in front of us, swiveled slightly to his left. I winced inwardly and smiled brightly. Young people go to the theatre you know, I thought. It was a million words a minute. And the countdown to lights down had begun. I was beginning to panic a bit. I suggested that we give the hit man some time off for his excellent work at dealing with the bad guys.

In the first half, I heard only a couple of whispers. Phew. At interval we chatted. It was clear that Talking Boy was bewildered and had lost the thread around the time of the dance in masks. During interval we did our best to catch him up. The second half is, of course, a fast paced unraveling of all the mischief in what had gone before, and I think I saw some pennies drop.

On the way back to the car, Talking Boy, asked if there was a movie version.

I discovered later that the Bell Shakespeare website has lovely resources and eduction materials. I am not sure it would have helped us much, as it would have required reading. There is a character chart, which shows the relationships between the characters, I should have printed that out and stuck it to the fridge last week. But I live and learn too.

Toby Schmitz who plays Benedick is extremely charming and very easy on the eye. The rest of the cast is terrific. The rubber faced Max Gillies, as Dogberry, is hilarious. In all, a great fun production with excellent cast and simple but sweet set and design. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A fine, if somewhat confusing for some, night was had by all.

Do you take your teenager to the theatre? What preparation do you do?