Sunday, July 6, 2008

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy.

I were but little happy if I could say how much.

Seriously, though, that's one of the most romantic lines in all of Shakespeare. Nevermind what he does later.

Tonight is my final performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare Tavern. I'm hoping it's a good one because I'm going out on it.

But, you know, not really final. We'll be back in August and September, ready to rock again. Right now, though, tonight is my focus.

Claudio really is a great character. He's a hard character to get into. A cursory look at the text might lead one to think he was just a stupid, easily swayable guy of, frankly, suspect moral character who rails at a poor little defenseless girl at her wedding. He can be a screaming, mercurial jerkoff.

But ain't that just the simple way to play him?

I've done this play twice before. Once as Leonato, in college, and once as Don Pedro, at a community theatre. Each time, Claudio has been a big point of contention, but I never looked at him in the same light. First, as Leonato, he appeared to be the aforementioned screaming, mercurial jerkoff. We played Leonato as old, but still very physically fit, so the challenge was visceral. There was no question as to whether or not Leonato could give Claudio a fight. Then, as Don Pedro, he was like a puppy that I had to look out for. It certainly helped that Claudio then was a quarterback type guy who was played with a quick temper. As one of the old guys in that cast, it was easy to sidle into the role of Don Pedro, trying his darndest to guide silly little Claudio to a good ending.

Now that I've actually had time to delve into him, though, as is often the case, I see so much more. He's just as tore up about the Hero situation as anyone, which I think gets lost in the shuffle. It's an anger brought by extreme pain. I know I've been in situations before where I've lashed out at someone I cared for, only to regret it immensely later. To call Claudio out for that is to be hypocritical about any huge fault we've made it our lives. He's got a problem with trust, and might be naive, but he isn't flat out stupid. The fact that he's from Florence would have carried weight with an Elizabethan audience.

To play him as a railing miscreant is a disservice to the character. Anyone with a line that beautiful isn't an all out dickhead. And it's the simple path to take him that way. It is an interpretation, but, by God, it ain't my interpretation.

He isn't that easily swayable jerkoff. He's a human who reacts strongly when he thinks that the woman he is going to marry has betrayed him. I think he's a lovely young man, and it's a joy to inhabit that place for a couple of hours a night.

See you at the Tavern tonight, hopefully! Then, in August...whoo!

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