Best Shakespeare Production - 2011
Much Ado About Nothing
You know you're watching a fine Shakespeare production when the audience is crackling with as much energy as the cast. Tim Ocel and Saint Louis University's theater department had the house rocking during their rollicking staging of Much Ado About Nothing. Romantic leads Beatrice (Katie McGee) and Benedick (Gregory B. Cuellar) fought falling in love almost as passionately as they sniped at one another, engaging in a verbal dance of death that drew more laughs than blood. Cuellar played Benedick as a preening young buck, as gloriously full of himself as he was charming. McGee made Beatrice an acid-tongued angel, popping Benedick's balloon with hilarious regularity. Of course, their mutual dislike is perverted into a deep and astounding love, and the duo enacted their unwitting courtship with élan and grace. The show sang with reproach, ribaldry and romance (in that order). The final scene, in which the two discover they've been duped into a relationship, unfolds across their bemused faces; there was the briefest flicker of the old distaste, and then they melted into each other as they mutually realized it really is more fun to make love than war.