MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – University Theatre Guild

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – University Theatre Guild

Reviewed by Paul Davies

May 2015

I for one don’t get enough Shakespeare. I looked forward to this production, knowing the reputation of the Uni. Guild and director Megan Dansie it was destined to be quality.

I know that you can hear the “but” coming a mile off, but first the many, many positives. Dansie’s direction is flawless. There are set pieces such as the hiding scenes of Beatrice and Benedick that are brilliantly done. There are moments when the audience is taken on an emotional rollercoaster, and the forth wall is torn down to great effect from time-to-time. 

This company contains some very classy players who belie the sobriquet amateur. If there were justice in the acting world many of these would be Hollywood millionaires. I love also that no-one in a small part here is required to be a small actor to bolster the lead’s insecurities. There are no insecurities, and no-one here is worried about a bit of Shakespearian upstaging. 

The “but” is the transposition of the play to post WW2 England. Sorry to say it didn’t work. It brought about too many anachronisms, and was an unnecessary tinkering. Instead of having the desired effect of making the story more accessible it only served, annoyingly, to bring one out of the tale when an inconsistency, such as a place name or referencing a gun as a sword, was noticed.

One of the beauties of Shakespeare is his relevance across the years and I think you have to trust your audience to join those dots. Who has had so much of the original that they feel this tinkering warranted? Not this theatre-goer for one.

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