If you see a distinguished gentleman walking around the speaking funny lines in an English accent, to no one, he might not be crazy—he might be Louis B. Jack preparing for his next role in On the Edge Theatre Productions’ Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.
Jack will play the part of Dogberry, which director Aurora Long describes as “the comedic relief character.” He is the head constable of the town's watch, keeping peace at home in England during WWII. Long explains, “In our production we have made the watch reminiscent of the home guard in England, a collection of older men and misfits who worked to keep their homes safe while the younger men were at war."
Dogberry's speech is peppered with malapropisms, so he says such things as "Comparisons are odorous," when he means "odious." In fact, malapropisms are sometimes called "Dogberryisms" after this character.
Jack is an attorney with the IRS office of chief counsel in Laguna Niguel, a role he has played for 34 years. He represents the IRS in the tax court. He has had roles in The Pirates of Penzance, Cabaret, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Jack explains that the preparation for Shakespeare involves an extra step: “First you have to translate Shakespeare’s verse into modern English.” Then he works on speaking lines with an English accent that fits the character. “I love playing Dogberry, because he is a very wacky guy,” he said.
Another Laguna Niguel resident, Bill Goff, plays a smaller role, Sexton the Town Clerk. This will be the third Shakespeare play for Goff, a retired Presbyterian pastor. He did not begin acting until he was over 60, when he took a beginning acting class and classes on acting for the camera and directing at Saddleback Community College.
“I like Shakespeare for his historical value, his deep understanding of human nature and the richness of his language. For me, reading a Shakespeare play is dull, but it is almost magical to see it come to life on the stage,” he said.
“I don't have a favorite line in the show, but watching me attempt to swing dance will be worth the price of admission!”
Much Ado About Nothing is considered by some to be one of Shakespeare's 10 best. It’s written in prose, so it’s a little easier to understand than some of his other works, and it’s a comedy, so you won’t go home depressed. The story follows two young lovers, Hero and Claudio, who are to be married in one week. To pass the time, they conspire with Don Pedro to set a "lover's trap" for Benedick, an arrogant confirmed bachelor, and Beatrice, his favorite sparring partner.
Meanwhile, the evil Lady Joan conspires to break up the wedding. You can see the show at the Attic Community Theatre, 2834 S. Fairview St., Santa Ana, April 28 through May 7, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available in advance through seastyourself.biz.