The popularity of Sir John Falstaff, the portly jokester in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV' plays, led to a sequel. 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' today would have been dubbed 'Falstaff II.' And like most sequels, the original idea wears thin. Falstaff is funny, but his coarse, self-aggrandizing behavior is one-dimensional. That's part of why Cincinnati Shakespeare's holiday show grows a bit wearisome.
There are two unlikely pairings in Cincinnati Shakespeare's 1960s-flavored 'Much Ado About Nothing.' First is the romance between Beatrice and Benedick, competing wits whose friends trick them into realizing they're perfect for each other. Still more audacious is director Drew Fracher's attempt to marry this well-mannered comedy with the acid-tinged, free-love vibe of a hippie commune.
William S. Gilbert's 1877 comedy is commonly assumed to be the inspiration for Oscar Wilde's later classic, 'The Importance of Being Earnest.' If you've ever laughed your way through that clever comedy, you should head downtown to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for a fresh dose of hilarity.