Billed as Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedy as advertised on the front of the programme pictured above. Much Ado About Nothing has been reworked and relocated in this new staged production firmly into 1945.
The devastation caused by the six years of World War II is now finally over. The soldiers are finally returning home from the battlefields, and there is much excitement on the farm from the ladies who are working there. Setting an unusual but authentic scene for this latest adaption by Northern Broadsides and New Vic theatres of this famous Shakespeare play.
This version didn’t work for me in the beginning as adapting the language and characters away from the original settings to a beautiful farm scene wasn’t very easy and it took about 10-15 minutes to adjust and settle into the play. However, once the suspension of disbelief began to take hold there was nothing about this play to dislike.
The stage backdrop took the form of rolling countryside with an idyllic farmhouse featuring in it. The stage flooring was tile squares joined together and made to look like an ordinance survey map. An original and interestingly dressed stage highly commendable setting created by the New Vic Workshop.
Pictured above are some of the cast enjoying the masked dance.
The basic storyline in this well known Shakespeare classic remains unchanged, with the masquerade dance, couplings, deceit, romance and brilliant comedy all present.
Robin Simpson has all the right ingredients for the part of Benedick. He is charming, funny, charismatic and despite his arrogant manner, he is a likeable character. In a couple of solo scenes, Simpson commands his stage presence with ease and fully engages the audience as he delivers his solo speeches.
Beatrice, Benedicks pre-war love interest has been cast well to the very talented Isobel Middleton. Her comedy timings were especially brilliant and the couple’s relationship worked extremely well together on stage as their verbal sparring matches took place quite often throughout the performance. The anger and passion she evokes in the scene after Hero was jilted at the altar are very moving and her passionate delivery was word perfect.
In keeping with the era just after the War, all costumes had been well chosen and created to match the characters status, rank and with some obvious garments made to appear homemade with holes in them.
Musical director Rebekah Hughes had used some original musical ideas in this play. The live band and well-chosen music from that era added a great dimension as several of the cast played their instruments and sang. The barbershop quartet is one to watch out for as they harmony together perfectly.
The comedy, passion and word perfect performance is definitely a must see play. Overall it’s a thoroughly well cast, produced and directed performance. A very good version for younger newcomers to Shakespeare who are studying this play at school as it’s easy to follow, understand and learn more about the characters from the play.
Cast and Creative team list pictured below.
Playing from 19th-23rd March 2019 at;