Much Ado About Nothing
Thu, 2nd Aug 12
We are transported to India the moment we set foot in the theatre, the design concept overflows into the foyer of the theatre where we are greeted by a soundscape of a busy Indian street replete with tooting tuk tuks. This is a good looking production, very good looking. The set, designed by Tom Piper, is terrific, dominated by a large tree with branches strewn with a confusion of electric cables and lights.
There are many reasons why Much Ado should work well in this post colonial Indian setting – the patriarchy, the importance of chastity and the honour of family – and to a point it did work in this production. At times, though, it felt rather heavy handed and would have benefited from a lighter touch and maybe one or two judicious cuts. The gulling of Beatrice, done with Hero on speaker phone, was a real disappointment and a wasted opportunity. With Hero performing offstage all the fun and mischief was lost. Although dubious at first, I rather liked Meera Syal and Paul Bhattercharjee as Beatrice and Benedick, with Syal really winning me over in the second half of the play – “O, that I were a man”. I enjoyed watching their relationship develop and they clearly had fun with it.
This show is a treat visually but needs tightening up as it does suffer from a lack of pace. All in all it was just too far down the Panto end of the scale for me, relying too much on obvious dick jokes and as such lost some of the depth and interest of the play.