Home » Reviews » Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s Theatre

Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham’s Theatre

William Shakespeare
Directed by Josie Rourke


Courtesy of Sonia Friedman Productions
Sonia Friedman’s newest West End offering has been the subject of much excitement, and with heavy-weights David Tennant and Catherine Tate featuring in the line up, you can understand why. The show had almost sold out before it even opened, but despite the fact that Much Ado About Nothing is quite a safe choice of play, with expectations raised to such high levels there is always a risk that the production might be a disappointment. On this occasion however, we were not disappointed. In fact, despite the relatively conservative choice of play, this production has a number of surprises in store. In short, it is fantastic.

Walking into the auditorium, you are at first faced with a beautiful stage-wide silvery curtain. Naturally, one expects a classical Shakespearian set, with intricate Elizabethan costumes and make-up. The curtain goes up, and the first surprise comes: the audience is blasted with cheesy 80’s music and a girl in a bikini practicing her dance moves by a sun lounger. It doesn’t take long to realise that Josie Rourke’s new production will be quite unlike any Shakespeare we have seen before. At first, we were skeptical, but as the show went on, it became apparent that despite it’s modern setting, the comedy in Shakespeare’s script has been perfectly preserved; in fact, the setting does much to make it even funnier, with Tennant’s bizarrely epic entrance on a golf buggy being a particular highlight.

Incidentally, and unsurprisingly, Tennant is outstanding. His comedic timing is completely impeccable. Very few actors can summon waves of laughter with the flick of an eyebrow and from the front row his wonderful facial expressions were hysterical in places. His pairing opposite Catherine Tate was also an excellent decision. Tate showed remarkable emotional depth as a stage actor, and she was even able to use some of her well-known catch-phrase comedy to great effect. The two stars are propped up by a clutch of superb performances, in particular from Adam James as Don Pedro, and from John Ramm as the uproarious Master Constable Dogberry. Finally, a special mention must go to Tom Bateman in his sensational professional debut.

The design is understated but extremely effective. The revolve is used to good effect, and moving pillars are used to neatly create new locations. Particularly excellent moments come when Benedick and Beatrice are drawn into their friends’ respective traps, tricked into falling in love with each other. We won’t ruin the surprises, but suffice to say that paint, hoists and a particularly unwanted book are used in a novel way to reinvent these already hilarious scenes.

To sum up, this new production of a Shakespearian classic is a roaring success. We have stopped short of giving it five stars only because it hasn’t delivered anything particularly new to the theatre scene. However, as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, and this show certainly has nothing that requires fixing! It is a brilliant and delightful evening of heavy-weight theatrical entertainment.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Much Ado About Nothing runs at the Wyndham’s Theatre until 3rd September 2011.
Box Office: 0844 482 5120 or book online at http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/MuchAdoAboutNothing.php

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Everything Theatre
Founded in 2011, Everything Theatre started life as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts and – thanks to the Entry Pass Scheme for 16-25 year olds – regular National Theatre goers. Today, we are run by part-time volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds. Among our various contributors are people who work in theatre, but also people who work in law, medicine, events, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for the London theatre scene.
  • Nick McNulty

    I loved this production. I consider myself fortunate and privileged to see it. David T is a master of pathos, slapstick, drama, danger and comedy. I went because I love his style, charisma and consummate skill as a wonderful actor and entertainer. Catherine Tate was simply lovely. I was over-joyed to see she is a very attractive lady who doesnt seem to mind, when on TV looking plain but here she was really naturally beautifil and she has great style and attitude. It is obvious DT and CT are dear friends and care about each other. That, along with great direction, a superb set and a simply unbeatable supporting cast made this Shakespeare pretty much perfect for me and even more importantly totally memorable. I hope it is committed to dvd for the future generations to see. To me this is much ado about everything. Best wishes Nick McNulty

  • Anonymous

    I was privileged enough to go and see Much Ado during it’s previews, on the 21st March. It was so good that I came away with a need to see it again so great that I booked more tickets the next morning.
    I found the chemistry between Tate and Tennant outstanding: it is immediately clear how close they are both on stage and off, and I felt that this contributed hugely to making the production such a fantastic success.
    The directing was impeccable. Sometimes I felt that the music was a little too cheesy for my liking, but at the same time I felt it did not ruin anything in the slightest.
    The slapstick scenes were too hilarious for words: I don’t think I’ve ever been reduced to tears of laughter by a Shakespeare play before.
    All in all, it was fantastic, and I cannot wait to see it again!

  • Anonymous

    21st April* sorry!

  • Anonymous

    21st* MAY!

    gosh I don’t know where the months go!! (rather embarassing!)

  • jackieb

    I totally agree. I went on Saturday, June 4th, and I also feel very privileged to have seen it. The whole evening was a joy, the casting was brilliant and it was further proof of Tennant’s terrific range. I hope he and Tate will work together again soon as they do have great chemistry. I thought the 80s setting worked very well too.