Douglas Rintoul makes his directorial Queen’s debut with an easy to follow adaptation of Shakespeare’s popular comedy. A talented cast with a skilful understanding of comic timing, combined with Rintoul’s direction, has led this production of Much Ado About Nothing to its delightful success.
Set in World War 2, this version emphasises the timelessness of Shakespeare’s imagination. By contrasting Shakespearean language with an era not too far from the modern day, the audience are able to contextualise the play in a way that is more relatable to contemporary life. In particular, this production would be greatly appreciated by those studying the play for it allows individuals who may not necessarily be interested in Shakespeare’s text to engage with his work in a more entertaining and visual form. The night I attended this humorous piece, there were several school groups watching with intent that went on to enthusiastically discuss Much Ado About Nothing at the end of the show. The barrier between modern and Shakespearean language became non-existent due to the talented performances by the actors and the excellent direction from Rintoul.
What was refreshing about this particular production was the size of the cast. Rather than having actors take on more roles than traceable, eleven actors and a few extras were employed to add a sense of community and to lift the atmosphere of the auditorium. Hattie Ladbury’s (Beatrice) and James Siggens’ (Claudio) performances particularly stood out. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Ladbury’s presence filled each scene with an unmistakable personality and charisma. Every time she stepped on stage a bubble of comical wit followed her, causing the audience to laugh more than any other cast member. Whilst Ladbury’s character sustained a constant and engrossing energy, Siggens proved his diverse acting ability through his character’s changing personality. On first introduction, Claudio is a cheeky and charming character who puts his heart out on the line for Hero. But this all changes when a plot twist occurs, keeping both the audience and the characters on their toes. Due to information that suggests Hero has been unfaithful, Claudio transforms from a happy and sparkling young man to a stern, unapproachable, individual. This change is sublime and fills the auditorium with an unmistakable chill.
This is not a difficult to understand piece aimed at Shakespeare enthusiasts. It is an accessible production for those who are interested in seeing a laugh out loud comedy about love and betrayal. If you like to fill your nights with fun, laughter and culture then tickets can be bought until Saturday 26th March 2016 at http://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/show/880/much-ado-about-nothing