Island Shakespeare fest kicks off with ‘Much Ado’

Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” has been called one of his purest explorations of love.

The Island Shakespeare Festival is getting ready to kick off its fourth season with this romp, staged with a Victorian era circus theme.

Director Rose Woods explains in a press release about her love of the circus and why choosing this type of presentation was key in this production. The play will be set in a custommade circus tent erected in a field behind Langley Middle School,

“Without the ability to time travel, running away to that era of circus was impossible other than through the magic and illusion of theatre. And so, my concept for ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was born,” she said in a prepared statement.

The tent was acquired through a Kickstarter campaign and gives the theater company a stage of its own for performances and a training facility. The tent can also be rented to the public for weddings and other events.

“Much Ado About Nothing” involves a circus tent of lovers, with the basic plot focusing on Claudio and Hero, who plan to marry. But the villain here, Don John, slanders Hero, and ruins the wedding.

Hero’s family decides to get even and they set up a con in which they have Hero dying from shock to force Don John to reveal what he had done.

Hero then returns to life and the marriage goes ahead. Then we learn that Don John has been captured for his slanderous crime, according to the press release.

Meanwhile another set of lovers discovers each other and this is where Shakespeare can truly examine the intricacies of love.

That couple is the feisty Beatrice and Benedick, the man she verbally spars with constantly.

The dialogue is witty and the two turn from antagonistic mental boxers to lovers with genuine affection for each other.

Woods, in the program notes, described the plot of the play as nearly perfect: “combining high drama, great jokes and fabulous poetry in a dizzy sequence of scenes that leave the audience torn between tears and laughter.”

“Much Ado About Nothing,” opens at 5 p.m. Saturday and runs through Sept. 15. in a circus tent erected in a field behind Langley Middle School, 723 Camano Ave., next to the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds.

Shows start at 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 3 to Sept. 15.

Admission to the Island Shakespeare Festival is free.

For more information, call 360-331-2939 or go the website at

Herald staff

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