It’s not a typical experience one would find at a play.
Dressed in snazzy cocktail attire, the audience arrives at a castle, gets handed a glass of champagne and mingles with the cast, some of whom are playing a piano, guitar or ukelele in various rooms draped with antiques. At 8 p.m., everyone heads upstairs to the ballroom for a condensed hour-long version of a modernized William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
The whole production, explained Launch Pad Theatre Company’s co-owner Christina Patterson, is like an old-fashioned parlour evening when the rich would invite entertainers to perform in their home.
“It’s different than a lot of theatre that we’re used to. It’s a fun night,” said Patterson, who plays the role of Beatrice, with her real life husband David Radford as Benedick. The pair met for the first time 22 years ago when they performed together in the same play.
“We have a great time. We never sit silently at dinner chewing our food and staring out the window. We always have a ton of stuff to talk about.”
Described as a fresh take on a classic play, Launch Pad’s latest installment of Bard in the Ballroom; Much (Less) Ado About Nothing is a feverish, fast-paced farce.
Believed to be written in 1598, the original play is about three hours long, so Launch Pad trimmed it down, cutting out the repetition to squeeze the story into an hour. The words are still Shakespeare’s, noted Patterson, but are put in a slightly different order. An onstage Foley artist producing live sound effects adds to the fun, along with the Edwardian-era costumes created by seamstress Martha Burd.
Craigdarroch Castle is slowly turning into a home for Launch Pad Theatre and a popular one at that. Their Halloween show, Arkenham Abbey and holiday screwball comedy Radio, Mistletoe and My Man Godfrey, sold out. The second season of Bard in the Ballroom is expected to as well.
Much (Less) Ado About Nothing takes place March 23 to 25, March 30 to April 1, and April 6 to 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 with a glass of bubbly and $28 without alcohol, and are available by calling 250-592-5323. For more information visit thecastle.ca.