The RSC never fail to put on a Shakespeare production that is tremendously acted and thoroughly brought to life. Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedies that consists of quick-witted dialogue and vivacious characters.
It is the sort of Shakespeare play that makes me question the stigma around Shakespeare. The humorous and playful production showcases Shakespeare’s excellent comedic dialogue and terrific ability to switch so seamlessly between the silly and melodramatic scenes to the more tragic and wholesome moments.
Being performed alongside Shakespeare’s other well-known romantic comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost, people believe the plays have a strong connection. There are many resonances between the two plays, such as similar themes, styles and personalities, although it isn’t proven. Despite this, the touring company use the same group of actors and staging to create the two plays.
Simon Higlett has created a magnificent set that resembles that of a Stately Home, with an Edwardian style, it appears majestic and timely. The towering architecture opens up into an intricately designed room, with gold accented furniture with velvet layers, giving it an expensive but warm interior. This reflects the elegant tone of the production, which is also echoed in the beautifully decadent costumes.
The play itself tells the story of feisty and self-assured Beatrice (Lisa Dillon), a confident young lady that isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and sarcastic bachelor Benedick (Edward Bennett). As their friends and family embark on a mad plan to get them together, despite their misgivings, they fall in love. Their dialogue is pacy and slick, creating hilariously sharp insults that they fly back and forth at each other. They approach the roles with absolute commitment, particularly Bennett who brings a resounding amount of energy to the role.
Through the humour there are some poignant moments of compelling acting, such as Leonato (Steven Pacey) and Claudio (Tunji Kasim) who display a considerable amount of anger and emotion when they are shocked to hear at her wedding to Claudio, Hero (Rebecca Collingwood) has been unfaithful.
The play is warmed with the addition of music, composed by Nigel Hess specifically for the production. The cast shine with their faultless vocals that are performed simply, but the powerful volume and perfect blend lift the performance, giving it character.
Much Ado About Nothing is impeccably acted, incredibly funny and utterly festive. The classic play is performed with the addition of sublime music and colourful movement, to create a flawless piece of theatre that made me laugh out loud.
On at the Manchester Opera House until the 3rd of December alongside Love’s Labour’s Lost, tickets can be found here.