MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
by William Shakespeare.
Mappa Mundi/Theatr Mwldan Tour to 26 November 2011.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 8 November at Lakeside Arts Centre Nottingham.
Needs a few more actors. Otherwise good.
Much Ado About Nothing seems to be all over the place lately, at least in Nottingham, which is a good thing. It’s not one of Shakespeare’s greatest; but it carries reminders of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, and some wonderful lines in its own right – can there be anything much lovelier than Beatrice’s “A star danced, and under that I was born”?
A Mappa Mundi/Theatr Mwldan co-production, this fields some excellent, mostly Welsh, actors. Liam Tobin, as a bald Benedick, is good with his soliloquies; Lynne Seymour’s Beatrice is mannishly dressed and properly assertive. Their scenes together are touching as well as comic. Gwawr Loader’s Hero is a sweet contrast to Beatrice; John Cording, as Leonato, is particularly effective when, after the interval, he’s upset by his daughter’s rejection at her wedding.
But more actors are needed. The scenes with Dogberry and Co, some of the best in low-life Shakespeare, have had to be trimmed down and handled by female actors, which is unsatisfactory; and there are other cuts.
The transposition from Never-Never-Lland/Elizabethan England to inter-war England is neither here nor there: it doesn’t detract from the thematic thrust of the play, nor does it strengthen it. Except, that is, in respect of the earthy innuendo that runs through the text – and indeed in the very title of the play, where the word “Nothing” has more than one meaning. The men are all Scottish soldiers and the fact that they’re wearing kilts is exploited to considerable effect.
A visually attractive, nicely cluttered set works well, as do the background period music recordings.
Claudio: Robin Waters.
Borachio: Gareth Pierce.
Don Pedro: Matthew Bulgo.
Leonato: John Cording.
Don John: Rhys Downing.
Margaret/Mistress Constable: Nicola Reynolds.
Hero/Mistress Verges: Gwawr Loader.
Beatrice: Lynne Seymour.
Benedick: Liam Tobin.
Director: Richard Nichols.
Designer: Carl Davies.
Lighting: James Smith.
Composer: Peter Knight.