Shakespeare, W - Much Ado About Nothing (Arden, 2006).pdf

For measure increases the quo tient of salacious

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for Measure), increases the quo- tient of salacious banter between Beatrice and Benedick (now a Restoration libertine). The adaptation may have been fuelled by a 1 Saturday Review, 11 February 1905. 100
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Introduction ..ru^c^at SJk^bSg ^*3-6u T^t^ ... , 13 Edward Gordon Craig's preliminary sketch for the church scene (4.1) in his production of 1903-4 101
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Introduction desire to compound the racy novelty of women playing the female roles, of which the revised play had four prominent ones plus two bit parts. Davenant was granted a theatrical monopoly (the other went to Thomas Killigrew) in the Restoration, and Much Ado was one of nine Shakespeare plays to which he had the rights (Killigrew claimed the rest). As Victoria Hayne writes, the deci- sion to reduce his repertoire by conflating Much Ado and Measure for Measure seems odd, except when we consider Davenant's need to generate roles for his new company of female actors; one of the roles, that of Beatrice's sister Viola, seems gratuitous: her primary function is to dance, equipped with castanets, and to sing two songs, including a quartet with Beatrice, Benedick, and Lucio entitled 'Our Ruler Has Got the Vertigo of State' . . . [yet] Pepys regarded her perform- ance as the highlight of the evening. (Hayne) Cultural moment The changing force of theatrical taste is demonstrated most clearly through the interpretation of Beatrice throughout the centuries. Much as productions are judged to range between light and dark, portrayals of Beatrice range between the shrewish and the more pliably tender-hearted. Her command to 'Kill Claudio' (4.1.288), for instance, has been received as either the unladylike vengeance of a virago, or the fierce loyalty of a woman moved by sisterly feeling for her cousin (Cox, 'Stage'). Whether this moment gets a laugh (and whether that laugh is a nervous one) can indicate the degree to which a production attempts to move into a serious vein or is allowed to do so by its audience. The prefatory remarks to the Kemble text noted that 'her generous indignation at the slander cast upon Hero tends very happily to heighten our admiration of her character, which has previously appeared somewhat open to suspi- cion of insensibility and shrewishness' (Kemble). In the 2004 Globe production, on the other hand, directed by Tamara Harvey and 102
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Introduction played by an all-female cast, the line was 'said snappily to guffaws ... in a production ... gently feminist in mood ("as you are a man" is said with an equal measure of disdain and pity)' (Mahoney). That the play presents us with an outspoken yet upright female argues that such a figure was conceivable in 1599 (even if played by a boy and dressing like an Ate in good apparel). However, stage tradition throughout the centuries has qualified the anomaly of her initial appearance, often in the direction of muting any unladylike tendencies. Restoration performances found the verbal agility of Beatrice attractive; James Miller's 1737 Universal Passion, another rewriting of the play (splicing it with Molière's La Princesse d'Elide), recast Hero and Claudio as
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