Saturday, 25 June 2011

Much Ado About Nothing @ The Globe

There really is no better place to watch Shakespeare than at the Globe, providing not only a theatrical experience but an historical one too.  The wooden architecture provides an authentic and magical backdrop to any of the Bard's works.

This Summer's season includes the witty comedy Much Ado About Nothing.  The plot may be a whimsical romantic comedy, but in the manner of Love's Labours Lost or A Midsummer Night's Dream the play offers plenty of depth.  Though written largely in prose rather than verse, it's still full of jocular language; amusing puns firing out from double-edged tongues.  The scenario lends itself to deception and mistaken identities as Shakespeare explores provocatively the roles of each gender in loving relationships.  The 'will-they-won't-they' subplot between Beatrice and Benedick is especially intriguing and still relevant to much modern drama.

This production was intelligently performed in traditional style, the colourful cast of characters proving consistently hilarious.  The actors were incredibly relaxed on stage and their enjoyment was infectious; their performances were natural with plenty of ad-libbing.  Much of this involved interacting with the audience and whilst this was always entertaining, the audience's reactions sometimes bordered on pantomime (call me pretentious but I don't condone booing at the villain...).  Of course, Beatrice and Benedick (Eve Best and Charles Edwards) stood out as the more interesting and witty couple, but there were comedy performances abound by the whole cast - Best and Paul Hunter (Dogberry) had especially good comic-timing.  Stephen Warbeck's music was well employed, the arabic feel of the clarinet and spanish guitar perfectly setting the mood.

Sure, standing for three hours is murder on your back but totally worth it for this thoroughly enjoyable production.