‘Much Ado About Nothing.’ (The First Half!) Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Three flamboyantly dressed people standing on a raised dais flanked by a crowd
Photo; RSC

It’s a big, bombastic, futuristic and vibrant Messina is this latest ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ from the R.S.C. There is a merry war ‘twixt Beatrice and Benedick and here it’s often very merry. The locals and returning soldiers have a beautiful sci-if, EuroAfrican flavour and, as is usually the case at the R.S.C, stunning costumes, set, music and choreography. It’s a talented team, directed by Roy Alexander Weiss.

It’s not perfect though. Occasionally some of the (already light) narrative lacks focus and there are occasional problems with diction, which you don’t expect from a company with such a huge creative talent pool. But there are some outstanding performances. Akita Henry is a mesmerising, mischievous Beatrice and more than a match for Luke Wilson’s more measured Benedick.

Overall though it feels magnificently playful and modern and I could watch the stylised movement and choreography all day! And I will be able to soon. And so will you! The reason I only watched the first half of Much Ado is that I’ve been in Stratford on Avon for a workshop – ‘Digitising Theatre.’ I was lucky enough to be selected by the Arts Council of England and Screenskills to attend this event, designed to provoke creative thoughts about filming, capturing and adapting theatre productions digitally. It’s given me some new skills (yep, even at my age!) and some new ideas on what I might do with MY Shakespeare adaptations and variations and other works. And the filming in the RST of Much Ado was our ‘case study’! So I shall see the second half of Much Ado About Nothing when it is aired on BBC 4 later this year. And rather than watch the second half, I used the time instead to sit in the Dirty Duck Pub in Stratford to write this (with a pint, of course). It’s great that you’ll be able to see the show for free, thanks to our B.B.C. And you should. It’s another triumph for our R.S.C!

Wine Glass Rating…. 🍷🍷🍷🍷 (4 out of 5)

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