Reviews: ‘Much Ado’ at Illinois Shakes Fest

Reviews for Much Ado About Nothing at Illinois Shakespeare Festival.


Christopher Prentice really pulls it off as Beatrice. At first, one is distracted by the fact that Beatrice has such a strong chin line, but that’s soon forgotten because of Prentice’s skill as an actor.

He doesn’t play at being a woman. He plays the woman, exploring her emotions and intelligence brilliantly.

Marcia Weiss

Christopher Prentice as Beatrice gives the best performance of the production. Obviously a man in a wig and a dress, Prentice plays Beatrice with a dignified maturity, almost a hard-jawed steely acceptance of her spinster fate. Powdery-faced and vampire pale, ghastly and physically unappealing as a woman, Prentice’s Beatrice is nonetheless a quick-witted free spirit – “she wakes herself with laughing” – capable of tenderness in her rejection of Don Pedro’s advance as well as overkill later in her anger: “kill Claudio.” Her 4.1 frustration – “o, that I were a man!” – is deliciously ironic, and her sharing of bedroom-eyed glances with Benedick before the wedding is cute, but Prentice’s best moments come with the 3.1 eavesdropping deception. When she hears of Benedick’s love for her, Prentice’s Beatrice nearly knocks over a planter then bursts into delighted laughter, and in her urgency to move past the potted trees to get closer to the gossiping Hero and Margaret, she snaps a tree in half – “what fire is in mine ears!” – then in a panic tries to screw it back together. She pats her heart in acceptance of both the man – “Benedick, love on!” – and her own feelings.

Justin Shaltz