May 22 2011

Much Ado About Something!

Category: Generalfootlight @ 21:13

The power of laughter can never be underestimated. Neither can the power of live theatre. Or the words of Shakespeare. Or the genius of the polished performer. Put the four together and you have the current production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at Wyndham’s Theatre, London. (May 2011)

If you had expected to see the cast dressed in Tudor clothes, you would have been disappointed, but ‘modern’ dress to them and ‘modern’ dress to us are different. It seemed perfectly right that the style was straight from the eighties. The set was clean, bright and very versatile, pivoting around four pillars on the revolving stage. The semi-circular ‘backdrop’ was a continuous wall of slatted doors, all giving the impression of a hot, sunny environment.

Tennant and Tate (catchy, eh?) were wonderful. Their sense of comic timing was perfect, their interaction with the cast and the audience was a delight and they worked together as only two actors who are comfortable with each other can do. David Tennant was an extraordinary Benedick, playing every line to the hilt and shining, particularly, in the scene where he ‘overhears’ the conspirators talking about Beatrice’s love for him. It would be cruel to give away the funniest moments, in case any of you are still lucky enough to see the play, but there is more than one moment where you find yourself saying – yes, out loud! – ‘No! I can see where this is going!’ but you are not disappointed by the knowing.

Catherine Tate carried off Shakespeare very well. She was clear and really felt the lines. Occasionally, there was a fleeting appearance by one of her many comic characters, but this enhanced rather than detracted from her portrayal of the heroine. She, too, really showed her comic mettle in the ‘disclosure’ scene. Surely all the audience were waiting for the line ‘Kill Claudio’ – we were. It was delivered coldly after several minutes of ranting which, sadly, some of the audience, who perhaps did not know the play well, did not recognise as distraction and saw only as another comic moment.

It goes without saying that the rest of the cast was superb. Even allowing for the one or two fluffs and possessed props (it was a preview night, after all) I would go and see it again in a heartbeat. Throughout the performance, the audience were treated to one magnificent moment after another. We laughed almost non-stop. We applauded individual performances as they happened. We sighed aloud at the beautiful moments and we cheered – yes, right out loud – when the two lovers finally kissed! It felt as though we were that first audience watching it in Elizabethan England, so strong was the atmosphere.

There is currently a petition asking for this to be recorded as was ‘Hamlet’. I have signed it. Will you?

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