Monday, 1 August 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

With a cast like this it really shouldn’t fail, but of course you can never be sure, so I am glad to report that this was a great night out as anticipated.

Not the deepest version I have ever seen, but for laughs, one of the best. The double act of David Tennant and Catherine Tate certainly paid off, and Tennant’s undoubted comic abilities meant that he shone, and probably would have done so regardless of the golf buggy, slapstick and lacy tights. It's also good to see Catherine Tate coming into her own as an actor, and although she has a way to go before the television stereotyping is left behind, I think she has a lot of potential for more serious stuff if she wants it.

There have been a few criticisms, mostly based around the populism of this version, and particularly the verse speaking, where the laughs seem more important than the sense, but I think the purists are missing the point. As one of the original romantic comedies it seems a bit churlish to grumble about a version that focuses on the froth.

That doesn’t mean that the problematic Don John plot wasn’t dealt with head on though. By leaving us in no doubt about what Claudio has seen, the showdown in the church sat better than some other versions, although it still jars a bit. The introduction of a mother for Hero was less effective though. It didn’t really seem to make much difference to me, apart from to make the feeble interventions in the abortive wedding seem even more feeble. It also downgraded the friendship between Beatrice and Hero, which made the ‘kill Claudio’ scene even more unexpected.

But, these are tiny gripes for what was a brilliant example of how to do joyful and fun theatre. ‘Glee does Shakespeare’? Yes. But did it capture the essence of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’? Yes, it did.

Although painfully expensive at £61 per ticket, I think this was actually worth every penny, and the Lily Savage wig and inventive use of paint will keep me going for some time.