Much Ado About Nothing: William Shakespeare, RSC / RST: Stratford Upon Avon, AD Performance 11 March 2022, 4****, Runs 3h 20m, inc 20 minute interval; till 12 March 2022, Review: Rod Dungate

Ray Alexander Weise’s cheerful production has a youthful and sometimes irreverent joy about it; but this does not mean it is not thought through carefully.


The world of the play is now a futuristic African state. The production tone is supported by a solid platform of this state’s cultural context and values.  The brightness of the setting allows us to see the play with fresh eyes.  The to—ings and fro-ings of love and, indeed, plots are as if we have never seen them before.  This is particularly strong in the first half, but as the more sinister plot-line involving the baseless denunciation of Hero really gets going, the originality of the production’s context is lost.  Thus, the production shines a light on much of the play’s joy and comedy, but at the same time can’t help displaying its joins.


Beatrice (Akiya Henry) and Benedick (Luke Wilson) are terrific to watch.  There is a great relationship between them, and both handle the text with skill- clear and sensitive.  Hero (Taya Ming ) and Claudio (Mohammed Mansaray) create a strong relationship, but their performances are marred by faulty voice work, Ming tends to shout, with is tiring, and Mansaray tends to mumble witch is irritating.


Gold stars galore must go to Karen Henthorn as Dogberry; the part is either gift or bore, and Henthorn’s Lancashire based Dogberry is a gift which keeps on giving.  Kevin N Golding handles Leanato skilfully, clearly shaping the emotional journey and his scenes towards the end are moving.


Jemima Robinson designs work well, enabling a great flow. Melissa Simon Hartman’s costumes are influenced from all over – inventive and witty, but I suspect may be a bit marmite to many.


Verges – Toyin Ayedun-Alase

Don John – Micah Balour

Seacole – Rebecca Banatvala

Sexton – Michael Joel Bartelle

Antonio – Mensah Bediako

Messenger – Christelle Elwin

Friar – DK Fashola

Leanato – Kevin N Golding

Beatrice – Akiya Henry

Dogberry – Karen Henthorn

Oatcake – Aruna Jalloh

Margaret – Sapphire Joy

Borachio – Curtis Kemlo

Claudio – Mohammed Mansaray

Hero – Taya Ming

Conrade – Miles Mitchell

Don Pedra – Ann Ogbomo

Balthasar – Khai Shaw

Benedick – Luke Wilson

Ursula – Adeola Yemitan


Director – Ray Alexander Weise

Set Designer – Jemima Robinson

Costume Designer – Melissa Simon Hartman

Lighting – Azusa Ono

Music – Femi Temowo

Sound – Claire Windsor

Movement – DK Fashola

Assistant Director – Ewa Dina

Company Voice & Text Work – Anna McSweeney

Music Director – Jack Hopkins

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