Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is your classic rom-com full of love, laughter, wit, mistaken identity, weddings, and penis jokes. The comedy begins with Don Pedro, Claudio, and Benedick returning from war. Claudio is in Love with Leonato’s daughter Hero, and while the two are excited to be married, Don Pedro is planning to sabotage the whole thing. As this is going on, Benedick and Leonato’s niece Beatrice are at war against each other (we are told because of their rocky history), but their friends aim to turn their hate into love through various tricks and games. This produces a very hilarious series of events, which director Ross McGregor has perfectly staged.
The performance began with probably the best interpretation of Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together I have ever seen. The movement and choreography team includes Will Pinchin, Robert Myles, and Omar F. Okai, who have created an exceptional series of sequences, which are so fun to watch. The show has a very talented cast too. Ben Kerfoot is a very handsome Claudio and Remy Moynes who plays Hero has a beautiful voice. Chrissy Kett stood out for me the most, and her performance as Dogberry was one of the funniest things in the show.
Hannah Ellis is a flawless Beatrice. She encompasses the character brilliantly, and her balance of anger and love for Benedick is perfect for the performance. She was so entertaining to watch. Equally, Christopher Neels’ Benedick is a worthy opponent to the witty young woman. The two bounce off each other really well, and the chemistry between the characters is depicted effortlessly by the actors. My favourite scenes in Much Ado will always be when Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into thinking they have feelings for each other. The comedy in these scenes relies on the physicality of the actors and how the director chooses to interpret and portray it. I’m glad to say McGregor does not disappoint in his direction. The slapstick executed by Ellis and Neels was very comical, and I especially loved the interaction between them and the audience.
The only downside to the performance was probably the drop in the atmosphere in the second half. The first half was full of enthusiasm and energy, while the second half seemed to lack this and I did find myself very slightly disinterested in the action at one point. I think the length of the show may have had something to do with this, as even though McGregor has condensed it slightly by combining characters and cutting out scenes, I think it could’ve done with a little more.
That being said, it still was a great show. The most unique thing about this performance was the ending, where the director decides to draw Hero away from Claudio, which challenges the classical conclusion. With this ending, McGregor has created a version of Much Ado About Nothing that can appeal to those who want a different, modern, engaging experience of Shakespeare’s comedy, and is definitely worth a watch. I’m really excited to see the company’s future adaptations.