Back by popular demand (and the Rutherford House’s invitation), Thou Art Here’s roving production of Much Ado About Nothing is returning to the picturesque, historic brick house perched on the north edge of the river valley on the U of A campus.
“We completely sold out the whole run last year; there were waiting lists, people were just clamouring to see it,” Marlee Yule says. She’s reprising her role as Hero from last year’s production; all but one of the other cast members are also returning. This gives the company members a leg up for this year’s run, she explains, as they’ve already got some 20 shows under their belt and can continue digging into the characters they were just starting to get to know last spring.
“I don’t think any other Shakespeare play could do so well inside that particular space,” she says. “Thou Art Here is all about site-sympathetic Shakespeare, and Much Ado About Nothing really marries to the space at the Rutherford House so perfectly.”
Touted as one of the Bard’s lightest works, the comedy’s premise retains a fair degree of contemporary resonance: a bunch of friends and family shacking up in a house over the weekend for a wedding. Thou Art Here has updated the original setting to fit the Rutherford House’s early 20th-century origins.
Audience members who saw the show last year will recall that the production, which moves throughout the entire house and the grounds outside, was very intimate—and sometimes downright squishy. With a cast of 10 and an audience of 25 to 30 (last year’s biggest show was 38, which Yule notes was a few too many), the show delivers an experience that’s really quite unique; the audience becomes engaged participants and not merely anonymous voyeurs. This year’s show will see a few changes in blocking based on learning what worked and what needed improvement from last year.
“I think it’s a play that you can see over and over, especially this one at the Rutherford House, because there are so many things going on,” Yule says. “You can watch different characters, different storylines throughout the house. You’ll notice Hero in the background doing something, or Beatrice, or any of the other characters. I think it’s worth a second watching.”
Until Sun, May 31 (7:30 pm)
Directed by Andrew Ritchie
Rutherford House, $20