Much Ado About Nothing at The Rose Playhouse - Review

Let me start by saying WOW! What an absolute triumph! This is my first 5 star review for Female Arts and it is well and truly deserved. As we approach 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, there is no better way to celebrate than going to see this show.

Much Ado About Nothing is set in Messina, Sicily where three soldiers: Don Pedro, Benedick and Claudio have just returned home from war. Afterwards, they are left with a new battle to face - love. Claudio and Hero yearn for love, Benedick and Beatrice will deny love at any cost which eventually leads to game-playing and false accusation.

How many times have we seen Shakespeare recontextualised? Most of the time I’m left thinking “Why?!” However, the decision to set this story after the Second World War was inspired and we were transported into the world of this play by the colourful costumes and the charleston dance routines! Another fantastic element to this show was the musical score, composed by Robert Hazle. Pair that with talented musicians and singers and you have a winner!

The magic in this production comes from the precise detail in characters and the direction by Alex Pearson. How refreshing to have a female director leading this intelligent and witty show. She clearly has a talent for spotting comic moments as well as intense and severe ones which struck the balance of the production perfectly.

One of these truly genius instances was during the marriage scene when Claudio flicked the wedding ring onto the floor, burst into laughter and the whole company gave out a massive sigh of relief. This acted as the lightening before the thunder and made the audience even more on edge which is what I love in theatre.

Every single actor on that stage (on the night I attended) was energetic, emotionally connected and a joy to watch. It’s hard not to go into detail on every single one of them, but I will choose a few:

Let’s start with the deliciously cocky Benedick played by Adam Elliott. He relished the character and Shakespeare’s language to an expert level and provided excellent comedy throughout. He was accomplished, a marvel to behold and truly the best Benedick I have seen to date.

The same can be said for Rhiannon Sommers who played Beatrice. A tricky part to get right, and boy did she get it right! Perfect amounts of sassiness and vulnerability that brought her character to life and made us love her even more. She commanded the stage with an incredible presence and wonderful delivery of Shakespeare’s wittiest lines.

What can I say about Clark Alexander’s Scottish Claudio? He got the balance between tough and troubled, to loved-up and compassionate completely right. The marriage scene, where he believes Hero has been unfaithful, was full to bursting with tension, so when he finally “let rip” it was magnificent. A detailed and skilful performance.

This production was so good that I am struggling to find enough positive words in the English language. All I can say to conclude is get yourself down to the Rose Playhouse Bankside for a night of tremendous fun and quality Shakespeare! I'm pretty sure I will be going again!

Much Ado About Nothing runs until 29th April.

(c) 2016 Molly Miller @MollyMReview

Playwright - William Shakespeare
Director - Alex Pearson
Costume Designer - Evie Holdcroft
Lighting - David Palmer
Sound - Yvonne Gilbert
Composer - Robert Hazle
Choreographer - Ian Hathway
ASM - Marianne Stafford

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