Much Ado About Nothing: Review

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Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedies and the New Vic and Northern Broadsides truly do it justice.

This joint production provides the audience with an hilarious yet at times harrowing recount of the classic Shakespeare play.

Left to right – Matt Rixon as Don Pedro, Linford Johnson as Claudio and Simeon Truby as Leonarto, Image by Nobby Clark

The play follows the story of a post-war Messina, with the original set in the 16th century but the New Vic adaptation set in 1945 at the end of the second world war.

The story of Much Ado About Nothing is timeless, which is why fitting it into post-war 1945 feels so natural. The audience is able to transport themselves to a time when the war was over and singing and dancing aplenty.

Musical director Rebekah Hughes and Choreographer Beverly Norris-Edmunds use the change in setting to their advantage with beautiful swing music and fantastic dance routines to boot.

The dance interlude, during the masked ball, made me want to get up and dance with the cast as they tango across the stage.

The cast of Much Ado About Nothing, image by Nobby Clark

We are taken on the passionate love story of Hero, played by Sarah Kameela Impey and Claudio, played by Linford Johnson.

Their relationship becomes strained when Hero, daughter of Leonato (Simeon Truby), is falsely accused of infidelity.

On the opposite side of the spectrum of relationships, we follow the turbulent love-hate relationship between Benedick, played by Robin Simpson and Beatrice, Hero’s cousin, played by Isobel Middleton.

Isobel Middleton’s performance at Beatrice stuck out particularly for me, she played the sassy, free-spirit fantastically. Beatrice is one of Shakespeare’s most empowering female characters and that is her appeal.

Isobel Middleton as Beatrice, image by Nobby Clark

The villains of the play were fantastically evil including Don John, played by Richard J Fletcher, brother of Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon’s illegitimate brother who concocted a dastardly plan to overthrow Claudio’s relationship with Hero.

The story of Much Ado About Nothing has been told by Northern Broadsides and New Vic in an intricate way. It is a play with plenty of comic relief with a darker, more menacing side.

Much Ado About Nothing is Conrad Nelson’s sixteenth and last production as director for Northern Broadsides and it’s a brilliant note to end on.

Much Ado About Nothing is at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme from Friday 8 February–Saturday 2 March 2019. For more details call 01782 717962 or visit newvictheatre.org.uk.

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