The Mombasa Shakespeare Group are now hard at work with their 1963 production “Much Ado About Nothing”, one of Shakespeare’s gayest comedies, the first performance of which is to be given in the open air at the Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education on June 22.
“Much Ado” was written in his later period when Shakespeare was at the height of his dramatic and poetic powers but as it was also written at a time when he was at his busiest, writing plays at a pace which would be regarded as impossible today, and also rehearsing and playing in them, it not unnaturally bears occasional signs of lack of revision and polish.
The love story of Benedick and Beatrice, the confirmed bachelor and spinster is almost as well known as that of that of their tragic counterparts Romeo and Juliet. While in Dogberry, Verges and their fellow watchmen one finds some of Shakespeare’s funniest comic characters, the part of Beatrice is interesting because it is the first example of a stage heroine who had a mind of her own and made use of it. Her wit sparkles as much as that of Benedick. Beatrice will be played in this production by Pat Berry, a newcomer to the Mombasa stage, and Frank Bentley, who took the part of Bassanio in last year’s production of the “Merchant of Venice” will play opposite her as Benedick.
The comedy is once again the hands of Alan Morrison as the immortal Dogberry, and Derek Orton, another established Shakespearean actor in Mombasa, plays Claudio. Geoffrey Beverley, who has hitherto only been seen in comedy roles, has a serious part this year as Leonato, father of the wronged Hero who is played by another newcomer, Gulzar Sunderji.
Kenneth Robinson as Duke Pedro and Douglas Blackett as his brother Don John will also be appearing for the first time on the Mombasa stage.
Harbhajan Singh, that fine character actor who played Shylock last year, demonstrates his versatility by appearing as the Friar who shows the way to achieve a happy ending for Hero and Claudio.
Denis Glanville is this year joined as co-producer by Frances McCulloch. The acting area at Miome has recently been improved by levelling and raising. Performances will be given on June 22, 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. and there will be special school performances on June 21, 24 and 25.