Pros: The two leads are fantastic, and there’s a real feeling of community amongst the cast when the comedy is delivered.
Cons: Some cast members aren’t as comfortable with the language, meaning some key lines aren’t executed with appropriate emotion.
The Queen’s Theatre’s current production celebrates two big milestones – the recent centenary of the First World War and Shakespeare’s 400th birthday. Combining the two is this production of Much Ado About Nothing, which is set in the 1940s. A feeling of celebration is apparent in the piece, as it also marks the directorial debut of the Queen’s Theatre’s new Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul. We are constantly reminded of the modernity of Shakespeare’s ideas when his works are shifted to new time periods with little fuss, and the references to battle and soldiers in Much Ado About Nothing make it particularly suitable for this treatment. The merger of production elements such as set, costume and music creates a charming and evocative show.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Shakespearean comedy, it is a story about love, deception and shame. The plot follows two turbulent love stories; Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other and Claudio is tricked into believing that his love Hero has been unfaithful, causing him to leave her at the altar. The characters seem to spend the entirety of the play plotting and misunderstanding each other.
The key to performing any Shakespearean work successfully is the ability to convey the message in a way that even a novice can understand, but this is not always the case here. Not all members of the cast are as at ease with the language, meaning parts of the plot are missed in what is already a confusing show. That being said, the energy of the cast remains intact throughout and the comedy is well executed.
The highlights of the cast are Hattie Ladbury as Beatrice and Thomas Padden as Benedick. Their sarcastic, flirty, quick-witted conversations are captivating and hilarious, and I found myself looking forward to the moments where the pair would interact. The scenes in which the men trick Benedick into thinking Beatrice is in love with him and where the women do the same to Beatrice, are directed seamlessly and show how talented the pair are in physical comedy. When they finally confess their true love, the moment is extremely moving. It’s only made better by the most appropriate song to end the evening: Al Jolson’s You Made Me Love You.
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Douglas Rintoul
Box Office: 017 0844 3333
Booking Link: http://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/show/880/much-ado-about-nothing
Booking Until: 26 March 2016