Sunday, 13 April 2014

Much Ado About Nothing @ Royal Exchange, 07.04.14

Shakespeare’s well-known romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing comes to Manchester in this new production directed by Maria Aberg. There is much merriment and mirth to welcome Don Pedro (Jason Baughan) and his company to town and Leonata (Marty Cruickshank), the Governor of Messina, is a very accommodating and gracious host. The guests have much to celebrate as they have recently won a great war, so there is dancing and laughter at the masked ball party thrown by Leonata. One of the guests in Don Pedro’s party, the esteemed Claudio (Gerard Kearns of Shameless fame), falls in love with Leonata’s daughter Hero (Becci Gemmell).

This production does well to surprise us and subvert the original male role of Governor Leonato with an impressive female Governor Leonata, as well as appeal to us with a new setting and a new time period. This is post World War Two Italy where the stars of the show are Benedick (a noble soldier in the company of Don Pedro, played by Paul Ready) and Beatrice (Leonata’s niece, played by Ellie Piercy), both of whom are stubborn and strong-minded, and thus the audience revel in the quick-witted retorts between these two charming characters. To the glee of Don Pedro and his company as well as the ladies in the household of Leonata, Benedick and Beatrice indulge in a “skirmish of wit”. Benedick and Beatrice amuse us with the air of nonchalance they attempt to profess, and yet they are so easily tricked. Also to be applauded for their fantastic humorous skits, which lighten the atmosphere, are constable Dogberry (Sandy Foster) and her deputy Verges (Beverly Rudd), for the two policemen are hilarious as they attend to their duties with great sincerity and comedy.

Typical of Shakespeare there is villainy in the form of Don John (Mild Twomey), the recently reconciled brother of Don Pedro who is extremely jealous of “the young start-up” Claudio and will go to lengths to plot the ruin of his chance of happiness. Will Claudio fall for Don Pedro’s vicious traps? Will Benedick and Beatrice fall in love? Will we get a happy Shakespearean ending? You’ll have to go along and find out.

Words: Sadia Habib

Photos: Jonathan Keenan

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to explore more about Manchester!