Saturday, 27 August 2011

In Which There is Much Squeeeeee-ing. (Also Culture & Literature)

I left you, at the end of the last post, as we were walking down Charing Cross Road to Wyndhams Theatre, to see 'Much Ado About Nothing'. We've been waiting and looking forward to it since we booked the tickets at the end of January, and so as you can imagine we were in a fine, happy mood! We splashed out on good seats, so were in the stalls, and Wyndhams is a relatively small theatre, so no-one is all that far from the stage.

And so to the play.
(Picture from
The setting was 1980s, and, judging from the sunshine and heat depicted, not in the UK  - Gibralter, maybe - just after the Faulklands War, to give Don Pedro, and Claudio, and Benedick a war from which to be returning.

We saw Hero (denim shorts, blonde bubble perm) sunbathing in the company of her cousin Beatrice (Catherine Tate), and then Don Pedro and his men arrived, all in crisp, white naval uniforms, and followed by Benedick (David Tennant)  driving a mini golf-cart, festooned with union flags  (and a single Saltire), clearly establishing himself as a joker, and there was then immediate drinking and smoking and joking and  high spirits.
(Picture from
The play was very, very funny. I don't think that one usually assosciates Shakespearian comedy with being genuinely, laugh out loud funny, but this production managed it. The cast (especially David Tennant) gave the impression that they were enjoying themselves, and the audience undoubtably were.

The masked dance scene was done as a fancy dress party, which of course made it rather more believable that Hero should not recognise Don Pedro, or Beatrice recognise Benedick. (It also provided an excuse for Mr Tennant to be dressed up in a very short denin skirt, and lacy tights, and wig, and for Claudio (Tom Bateman) to appear in leather trousers, pirate shirt and a single diamante earring, (think Adam Ant)

It was also very physical - during the scenes where Benedick  overhears his friends discussing Beatrice's alleged love for him, for instance, there was a lot of by-play involving paint, and as Beatrice overhears her friends discussing Benedick's alleged love for her, she is actually hoisted up on a pulley (and managed to continue to act under the circumstances - very impressive!)
The wedding scene was another opportunity to revisit the 80s, with Hero's wedding dress being the image of Princess Diana's (albeit with  a rather shorter train), worn with fingerless lace gloves, no less! And of course all the men in dress uniforms.

I was particularly impressed that both David Tennant and Catherine Tate were able to dial down the comedy so that their reaction to Cladio's accusations against Hero, and Benedick's subsequent challenge to him, came across as (quite literally) deadly serious.

So, all in all, a fabulous, hugely enjoyable performance. I think inevitably, the focus was on Tate and Tennant, but the rest of the cast were also very good - special mention is deserved for the boy, who has only 2 lines, but whose appearances (trying to do a Rubiks cube, fetching a book for Benedick and so on) added  very entertaining background.

Although we hadn't realised in advance, it turned out that this was the 100th performance of the show. That being the case, I found it was still very fresh. And, in case you haven't worked it out  yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd been looking forward to it hugely, and I think it's fair to say that it exceeded my expectations!


Siri said...

Colour me so very, very envious. I shopped for yogurt today. Sigh.

Marjorie said...

Hello Siri! lovely to see you here.

Yogutrt is important, too ;-)