Shakespeare fan Kristen Peterman once watched a production of “Much Ado About Nothing” that made her feel indignant on behalf of one of the Bard’s liveliest, most witty heroines.
“I won’t say whose play it was, but they had Beatrice stumble on stage with a bottle of Champagne, playing a scene as if she was drunk. I was furious.”
Starting Wednesday, local audiences will have a chance to see Peterman’s take on Beatrice as she directs the Gaslight Theatre Co. in “Much Ado About Nothing.”
The performances will take place at the Theatre at Lackawanna College in Scranton, and rest assured Beatrice will not appear tipsy, not as she engages in her merry war of words with Benedick, not as she sticks up for her cousin who is falsely accused of infidelity, and not as she realizes she loves Benedick after all.
The play has several strong female characters, which is one of the attractions of the show, said cast member Brandi George, who plays a lady in waiting named Margaret. “Shakespeare wrote them to be bold.”
Indeed, Beatrice is always ready to respond to Benedick’s insults.
Here is a sample of their repartee:
He: “It is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted, and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly, I love none.”
She: “A dear happiness to women. They would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood I am of your humour for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.”
He: “God keep your ladyship still in that mind, so some gentleman or other shall ‘scape a predestinate scratched face.”
She: “Scratching could not make it worse, an ‘twere such a face as yours were.”
In contrast to her more talkative relative, Beatrice’s cousin Hero is often considered meek and mild. But Meaghan Fadden, who plays Hero, says the character is spunky. “She has to stand up for herself” when even her own fiance and her father believe lies about her.
In the weeks before opening night, Fadden added, the play has been getting a lot of online attention through short clips of dialogue that have been posted as vine videos. People can make reservations through Gaslight’s Twitter account as well as by calling an old-fashioned phone number.