Much Ado about Nothing
Rose Theatre Kingston
Reviewed – 18th April 2018
“an explosive, enigmatic and enticing night at the theatre”
Almost a triumph, Simon Dormandy’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ proves both accessible and aspirational. The production overflows with clarity as the clearly capable cast generally ignore Shakespeare’s iambs and focus on providing the audience with the opportunity to understand every word. This is no mean feat in a play renowned for its complexity in that so much of its dialogue is reported action, instead of demonstrated drama.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that this production’s appeal for many lies in its starry headline. Mel Giedroyc steps into her first Shakespearean role with confidence and cleverness as her aptitude in making the funny even funnier doesn’t go unnoticed. She never misses an opportunity to reward the audience with a giggle and Beatrice’s scathing wit rolls off her tongue with great naturalism. She does, however, at times appear awkward in her movement; and seems unable to remain still and truthful in some moments of drama. The production relies, for example, on simplicity, stillness and honesty when Claudio outrageously confronts Hero on their wedding day, but Giedroyc’s overacting risks the integrity of such a potentially crushing scene.
John Hopkins shines as Benedick with a hearty, loveable and yet somehow roguish performance and Kate Lamb boldly proves that Hero is not the doormat she is often believed to be. A special mention must be afforded to Calam Lynch’s Claudio. It is Lynch’s theatrical debut and his boyish innocence works in tandem with his steely conviction to illicit a truly astonishing portrayal of a young man desperate to love.
The one let down of the production comes in the form of its anticlimactic finale. As Shakespeare’s final reveal of the alive and well Hero ought to dominate and provide a joyous final scene, the audience remained as unmoved as the characters did. With so little a reaction from those on stage, it seems too much for Dormandy to ask his audience to react at all.
The production handles the comedic moments of this iconic play with intellect and bravery, but generally struggles with the more serious scenes. A bizarre dance in the second wedding scene confuses the audience, but the superb on-stage band delights them throughout. The saving grace for the play lies in its cast. The four lead actors bounce refreshingly off of each other and provide an explosive, enigmatic and enticing night at the theatre.
Reviewed by Sydney Austin
Photography by Mark Douet
Much Ado about Nothing
Rose Theatre Kingston until 6th May