MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
by William Shakespeare.
Globe Theatre 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 1 October 2011.
Runs 3hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 May.
Much to make ado about.
Here’s a triumphant example of Shakespeare’s Globe catching the Elizabethan mood while being utterly modern. There are modern inflections – especially of facial muscles in Charles Edwards’ Benedick and body-language in Eve Best’s Beatrice. Though for body-language no-one exceeds Paul Hunter’s Dogberry, with his compulsive sounds and twitches.
Hunter actually makes the part funny, from his first appearance as a diminutive figure backed by his subordinate, Adrian Hood’s massive Verges. Hunter looks like a figure that might emerge from a European town-hall clock, with Hood the wall behind.
There’s psychological awareness in Ewan Stewart’s tough Leonato. Black as the villainous Don John is, Stewart shows there are shadows in others. He’s aggrieved Beatrice doesn’t accept his offer (after all, these people don’t know she’s bound to marry Benedick), and furious when believing his daughter Hero has been unfaithful to fiancée Claudio.
Who Philip Cumbus makes a brittle, callow youth, impulsive but emotionally undeveloped. Claudio and Hero stand petrified mid-stage when their love’s admitted, Beatrice (and an audience voice) urging him to the eventual kiss, rewarded with loud applause.
But it’s nothing to the theatre-wide tumult when Beatrice and Benedick finally lock lips. Until then, Benedick’s been unable to utter the word “husband”, while “love”’s only struggled out in tones of distaste. His limited emotional development, and her references to their past, explain Beatrice’s bitter witticisms towards him as a defence against the risk of emotional vulnerability.
Best makes her someone who finds awe in her birth, when her mother wept but a star danced. Very aware of the audience, she literally finds a comforting hand in the front row, while a sweeping glance of the auditorium includes everyone in a world that seems strange to her when Benedick becomes suddenly friendly.
There’s little particular in the second act’s development of Claudio and Hero, apart from her sudden rise from her bier when the coast’s clear, emphasising her active part in teaching him a lesson. But the sunlight ripening flowers and oranges alike in Messina is a fine backdrop to the light and shade of Jeremy Herrin’s serious, yet ultimately joyous production.
Leonato: Joseph Marcell.
Balthazar/George Seacole: David Nellist.
Beatrice: Eve Best.
Hero: Ony Uhiara.
Don Pedro: Ewan Stewart.
Benedick: Charles Edwards.
Don John/Sexton: Matthew Pidgeon.
Claudio: Philip Cumbus.
Antonio/Hugh Oatcake: John Stahl.
Conrade: Marcus Griffiths.
Borachio/Friar Francis: Joe Caffrey.
Margaret: Lisa McGrillis.
Ursula: Helen Weir.
Dogberry: Paul Hunter.
Verges: Adrian Hood.
Men of Messina: Paul Ginika Etuka, Greg Page.
Director: Jeremy Herrin.
Designer: Mike Britton.
Composer: Stephen Warbeck.
Choreographer: Sian Williams.
Globe Associate – Text: Giles Block.
Globe Associate – Movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Voice/Dialect: Mary Howland.
Fight director: Bret Yount.
Assistant director: Joe Murphy.
Assistant composer: Bill Barclay.
Assistant text work: Christine Schmidle.