|Maggie Siff, Jonathan Cake|
Photo: Gerry Goodstein
Unfortunately, Maggie Siff is not in his league. While there is much to admire in her performance, her voice comes across as thin and too contemporary. Also, her costumes and wig work against her. In terms of comic physicality and silent yearning, her Beatrice is Benedick's equal; in other terms, however, they are mismatched, somewhat throwing off the balance of the play (but not fatally).
Of course, there is more to Much Ado than Beatrice and Benedick, and Arbus does a good job minimizing the annoying subplot in which Benedick's friend Claudio is led to believe that his betrothed has been untrue. (As much as I try to put myself into the values of the time periods of the plays I see, and often succeed, I could not do it here. Claudio is a big baby, and all I could think was, "Get over your damn self.")
Much Ado provides the template of the romantic comedy genre with its squabbling lovers and silly obstacles. How impressive that it remains romantic and funny over 400 years after it was written (and how depressing to consider how far the genre has fallen).
(press ticket; 6th row center)