Thursday, 15 September 2011

'Much Ado About Nothing' (2011 stage review)

I'd only recently read Shakespeare's Much Ado when I found out that David Tennant and Catherine Tate were going to be starring in a production of it on the West End. I instantly decided that I must see this play at all costs! I'd been dying to see David Tennant in a play since I'd never got the chance to see him play Hamlet live. I managed to find some cheap tickets from lastminute.com, I asked Extremely Flammable to come with me, and it was all set.

We ended up seeing this play on the matinee performance on its very last day and we had a great time. We ended up catching the train down with loads of time to spare considering that I left my youth railcard at my house and had to go back for it! We picked the tickets up at the Wyndam Theatre which, handily enough, is right next to Leicester Square tube station. I have to be honest, I let out a bit of a squee when they were handed over to me! We then spent an enjoyable few hours wandering around a very random shop dedicated to M&Ms and had lunch at a surprisingly cheap pub called The Bear and Staff. So for all those people who moan about Central London being expensive I'd like to point out that you can still find affordable places! OK, there were some irritating American tourists by us but that's not the fault of the pub I suppose. After we ate we went to see the play.

It was extremely enjoyable : ) The setting of the play was updated from 16th century Sicily to 1980s Gibraltar and there were quite a few inventive touches in the play. As an example, the lyrics from Shakespeare's songs were set to a variety of 80s style pop tunes. I've had the "Hey, nonny, nonny!" song stuck in my head for weeks! I had two favourite scenes: the first is when Benedick (Tennant) overhears his friends discussing Beatrice's supposed love for him and ends up getting covered in white paint and looking ridiculous. It was hilariously slapstick and everyone seemed to love it. The fact that Benedick is covered in white paint makes his line"They seem to pity the lady" funnier than it is on the page. Benedick's attempt at songwriting on a tiny child's keyboard was another one of my favourite scenes.

I was extremely impressed by the actors playing Hero and Claudio in this play, Sarah Macrae and Tom Bateman. I was shocked to find out that this was Macrae's West End debut and Bateman's professional debut! What a start to your career! Of the two I thought Bateman was better and I hope he goes on to do other great things. I really didn't like Claudio when I read the play but Bateman actually managed to make me feel some sympathy for the character.

Catherine Tate (Beatrice) seemed to mess up her lines at one point and I do think that she was slightly too slapstick during the scene where she's dangling from the ceiling. However, she did handle her dialogue really well, she was very funny, and she does have great chemistry with Tennant. And as for Tennant, well he was just brilliant. He had great comic timing, he engaged with the audience, and was hilarious and charming. The Shakespearean dialogue sounds absolutely effortless when it's coming out of his mouth but I'm sure that only comes with years of practice. Disturbingly he even manages to look good in a denim mini-skirt and fishnet tights!

Rating: 5/5

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