"Excellent performance of Much Ado"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 16/10/18

Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most well-loved plays, dealing with the themes of honour, forgiveness and chivalry. It tells the story of two sets of relationships: Beatrice and Benedict, two former lovers who still have feelings for each other, but are too proud to admit them, and Hero, who is humiliated at the altar by Claudio when Don John convinces that his fiancé has been unfaithful to him. In this production Director Ellie Morris (in collaboration with Greg Birks) has chosen to move away from a traditional setting and move it to the battlefield that is the modern office.

The production is powered by standout performances from both Talia Pick, every inch “Lady Disdain” as Beatrice, and Gregory Birks, a Benedict who uses wisecracking and jokes to conceal his true feelings. Not only do they work well together, but they demonstrate the personal growth and maturity that occurs during the play, especially in the scene where Benedict confronts Claudio (Julian Bailey-Jones) and Don Pedro (Oliver Clayton). For his part, Bailey-Jones gives us a Claudio who is raw and immature, but ends up being genuinely penitent, rather than the two-dimensional abusive lover that many directors tend to insist upon.

Although Shakespeare purists may be disappointed that the Dogberry scenes have been drastically trimmed down, this gives the actors more time to focus on the really important parts of the play, increasing the emotional impact of the play. While the reconciliation between Hero (Ava Pickett) and Claudio could have been a bit fuller, we still get the impression that the couple will manage to repair their relationship. Perhaps the only real criticism is the decision to rely on the overhead strip lighting, which means that the light is dim for most of the play.

While this isn’t quite the definitive production of the play, it comes very close and certainly packs an emotional punch.

Produced by Exploding Whale and performed at Katzpace. Other cast members include: Octavia Gilmore (Don John), James Irving (Leonato), Charlotte Vassell (Dogberry), Lily Smith (Ursula/Conrade) and Bebe Barry (Borachio/Friar Francis).

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