MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
by William Shakespeare
The reFASHIONed Theatre 50 24 September
Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2pm.
Runs 90 mins No interval.
Review: William Russell 26 August
Quite a fashionista Do in the basement
This production in Selfridge’s basement is being staged in conjunction with The Faction as part of the Shakespeare400 celebrations. It is strongly cast, moves briskly and has one intriguing cast change – Leonato, Hero’s father and Beatrice’s uncle, has undergone a sex change, become Leonata and is played most stylishly by Carole Langrishe. It does no great damage to the plot although maybe a mother might have been less prompt to accept her daughter, Hero, was actually sleeping around and not, as the times demanded, a virgin. (It’s this revelation prompts Hero’s idiot fiancé, Claudio, to abandon her at the altar.)
The scene is Messina, Claudio and man about the wars Benedict, have returned home with the Duke, an impressive Jude Owusu, and his estranged brother Don John, white and nicely nasty played by Christopher Hughes.
Claudio, a wally if ever there was, falls for the gorgeous Hero, while Benedict, a man’s man to the core, feels a strange attraction to her cousin Beatrice, a forceful maid on the brink of spinsterhood.
The resulting battle of the sexes between Beatrice and Benedict provide the play’s memorable moments.
Daniel Boyd makes a strapping Benedict, but he is more of a tenor in a baritone role and his voice hits some amazing heights. Alison O’Donnell, saddled with a ghastly dress, is a feisty Beatrice although being witty with a Scottish Lowlands accent proves tricky and it is never clear why the rest of her relations are talk posh Home Counties.
Some of the supporting roles are played on video, with Meera Syal as a TV announcer, and Simon Callow and Rufus Hound as Dogberry and Verges, a gimmick which does not work but at least spares us most the Dogberry stuff as it is among the unfunniest clowning in all Shakespeare.
It was slightly careless of director Mark Leipacher to forget to tell Mr Callow about the sex change when making his recording as he repeatedly addresses Leonata as Sir. As for the fashion element, one does feel that given the dreadful gowns the women get to wear Selfridges’ ladies wear departments might have come up with something better. Ms Langrishe, however, does get a very chic number to wear.
Benedick: Daniel Boyd.
Margaret: Tala Gouveia.
Don John: Christopher Hughes,
Heri: Lowri Izzard.
Leonata: Caroline Langrishe.
Claudio; Harry Lister Smith.
Borachio: Jamie Maclachlan.
Beatrice: Alison O’Donnell.
Don Pedro: Jude Owusu.
Director: Mark Leipacher.
Co-director: Rachel Valentine Smith,
Set Designer: George Glassby.
Lighting Designer: Chris Withers,
Projectuon Designer: Chris McGill for Dusthouse.