Tag Archives: Zoe Hurwitz

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing


Duke of York’s Theatre

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at the Duke of York’s Theatre


Much Ado About Nothing

“it is the high exuberance of everyone that comes through the strongest”


The National Youth Theatre REP Company celebrates its 10th anniversary with a joyous romp through Shakespeare’s couples comedy in one of the West End’s most prestigious theatres.

Reinterpreting the text for a youthful cast and audience, in a version not ‘adapted’ according to the programme but ‘remixed’ by Debris Stevenson, the setting becomes Nowhere Island, a reality TV dating show. We get to see the players both on and off camera, on set and behind the scenes and, most engagingly, how the characters are manipulated and controlled by the TV show’s creators. There is, as appears to be the norm nowadays, a lot of additional non-Shakespearean text, including a plasma screen that rolls ‘live audience’ social media comments, but this should not upset the purist. This is a well thought through concept – ninety minutes, no interval – and it works.

Josie Daxter directs a sixteen-strong ensemble around a revolving set (Designer Zoë Hurwitz) which we witness being de-constructed at the end of the show to reveal the bare walls of the space behind. The large number of people on stage sometimes looks cluttered and their movements clumsy, but it is the high exuberance of everyone that comes through the strongest.

With a sassy rendition of Sigh No More Ladies to start things off as a theme tune to the TV show, we hear the players humming Hey Nonny Nonny even when not on camera, an earworm that they can’t shake off. This is an ensemble of good-lookers with pecs and midriffs on show. The girls pose and pout. The boys show off with testosterone-imbued hip-thrusting movements. Subtle, it ain’t. But in contrast, any personal insights into a character’s feelings are admitted privately in front of a screen in the ‘diary room’. Genius.

In Much Ado we have to rely on a strong Beatrice and Benedick and in Isolde Fenton and Daniel Cawley we are in good hands. It is an inauspicious start, however, with the early repartee between them performed in rap but things can only get better and they do. Fenton soon shines, her confident performance leading into an especially passionate display of Beatrice’s ‘O were I a man’ speech whilst Cawley’s cheeky chappie approach to Benedick is endearing and loveable.

Despite the radical re-creation of much of the play, this young cast exhibits a good feeling for the poetry – something that another large house was unable to achieve in a recent production. Hannah Zoé Ankrah as Friar, as well as Fenton and Cawley, are particularly strong in this regard.

Other special mentions go to Jessica Enemokwu as Leonato – the TV show producer – who is in full control of proceedings (ditch the megaphone though); Tomás Azócar-Nevin as Conrade, understated but just right; and Jasmine Ricketts as Don John who, after all is done, returns alone to a bare stage and exhibits a brave postlude breakdown that hints at her character’s mental illness. Finally, for one of the bravest and raunchiest staged love scenes between Borachio (Dalumuzi Moyo) and Margaret (Nathaly Sabino) I have seen – Bravo.


Reviewed on 8th February 2023

by Phillip Money

Photography by Helen Murray




Previously reviewed by Phillip:


Much Ado About Nothing | ★★★ | Jack Studio Theatre | August 2022
Ghost on a Wire | ★★★ | Union Theatre | September 2022
Playtime | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | September 2022
A Single Man | ★★★★ | Park Theatre | October 2022
The Mirror Crack’d | ★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022
The Two Popes | ★★★★ | Royal & Derngate | October 2022
Amadeus | ★★★★ | Bridewell Theatre | November 2022
How To Build A Better Tulip | ★★ | Upstairs at the Gatehouse | November 2022
Newsies | ★★★★ | Troubador Wembley Park | December 2022
Hamlet | ★★★ | Southwark Playhouse Borough | January 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews



Wickies: The Vanishing Men Of Eilean Mor


Park Theatre




“The strength of this production sits with its creatives and the actors, who wrestled as best they could with a script that needs some serious trimming”


“A lighthouse is a symbol of man’s good intentions” the experienced James Ducat (Ewan Stewart) tells wet-behind-the-ears keeper Thomas Marshall (Jamie Quinn) as he comes ashore to help man remote Eilean Mor. The lighthouse sets the scene for this eerie tale of three keepers, or wickies, who disappear from Flannan Isles in apparently mysterious circumstances.

In addition to the central narrative, the play is packed with stories about lighthouse keepers going mad with isolation and creepy bodies flailing in the wind. It’s a fertile setting for playwright (Paul Morrissey) to wring a story from.

But it’s not all windswept despair. The script is woven together with joyous and melancholy sea shanties sung acapella by the actors, which serves to highlight the men’s isolation marooned in this distant place. The direction (Shilpa T-Hyland) makes use of the whole stage – at times the actors emerge from the audience, while a rickety ladder is shimmied up and down to give an impression of height (the lighthouse is very tall, we’re reminded frequently).

The set design ( Zoe Hurwitz), lighting design (Bethany Gupwell) and sound design (Nik Paget-Tomlinson) all deserve special mention. They work together to create a true sense of isolation and claustrophobia. In particular lighting designer Bethany Gupwell’s role in a play where the keeper’s one goal is to ‘keep the light on’ at all times, is a central one. Lighting decisions are clever – at one point the theatre is cast into complete darkness while Thomas Marshall (Jamie Quinn) carries a lantern across the stage that casts a shaky beam of light to make the audience feel like ships tossed around on a stormy sea.

The strength of this production sits with its creatives and the actors, who wrestled as best they could with a script that needs some serious trimming.

The audience is told the same information again and again, just by different people. Pace is slow. It could do well with being cut to 90 minutes and losing the interval.

There’s an entire scene where Donald MacArthur and Thomas Marshall sit around a table discussing why the senior keeper left his family to work on the lighthouse, but we’d just been told why moments before. Thomas Marshall – “you ask a lot of questions, don’t you?” – was indeed, always asking questions, and often the same ones, repeatedly. Why had the men chosen to work in such remote places? Why did they leave their family?

The play’s intentions are good. There’s humour in spades – Graeme Dalling delivers some excellent one-liners, and he performs his role as a man metaphorically and literally lost at sea with energy and melancholy passion. But there’s a sense that this play could do with more showing and less telling. I wanted to see the actions they described – rather than hearing the inspector’s descriptions of what he thought had happened to the men, I wanted to see the actors act.

Several questions remain unanswered. The predominant one is why this play now? Why this play here, at the Park Theatre? But perhaps that doesn’t matter to all but the most diehard theatre fan. Afterall, it can feel at times that theatre has become something to clench your stomach ahead of and check your mental constitution after, and Wickies, other than a few ghost stories, doesn’t require that.

Inspection of the website post-show reveals that the play is partnering with StrongMen, a charity that helps men through bereavement. And perhaps that’s the only loose theme that comes through – a symbol of man’s enduring isolation in a world that’s not built for them. At its heart, this is just a good yarn, a ghost story threaded with reality. If you want to see something this season that’s not a show about Christmas, then this is a fine place to while away an evening.



Reviewed on 5th December 2022

by Eleanor Ross

Photography by Pamela Raith




Previously reviewed at this venue:


Flushed | ★★★★ | October 2021
Abigail’s Party | ★★★★ | November 2021
Little Women | ★★★★ | November 2021
Cratchit | ★★★ | December 2021
Julie Madly Deeply | ★★★★ | December 2021
Another America | ★★★ | April 2022
The End of the Night | ★★ | May 2022
Monster | ★★★★★ | August 2022
A Single Man | ★★★★ | October 2022
Pickle | ★★★ | November 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews