Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare; a Rondo Theatre Company production directed by Lisa Thrower & Andrew Fletcher, Wednesday 22nd Nov – Saturday 25th at 7.30pm.
Modern dress but original language for this production perhaps make it more accessible. Instead of Don Pedro returning from a successful battle we have RAF pilots returning to a bucolic setting, straw bales and pitchforks, at the end of WW11.
Benedick returns too, seemingly wanting to continue his “Merry war,” with Beatrice who declares, “I would rather hear my dog bark at a crow than hear a man declare he loves me.”
Also rekindling their relationship are Claudio and Hero whose feelings are destined to verge on tragedy.
What the groundlings found funny in the 16th century doesn’t always translate into the 21st century but this production converts the humour well enough to please the fairly full house here. In particular Chris Constantine as Benedick gets laughs where even Shakespeare probably didn’t intend, as does Jon Thrower (constable Dogberry) with a performance reminiscent of Basil Fawlty.
Wit, pathos, tragedy and even hints of women’s lib then… what else do you want?
Tickets may be hard to come by though.
Much Ado About Nothing – The Rondo Theatre Bath Echo
This evening’s performance of Much Ado About Nothing should, by all intents and purposes, have been worthy of the highest praise.
In fact, many of the individual elements of the Rondo Theatre Company’s production were fantastic, the first of which being their choice of adapted setting.
The Rondo Theatre Company decided to place their version of Much Ado in the England of 1945, with Don Pedro’s men as RAF soldiers returning from the Second World War. Not only did this blend seamlessly with the plot and core themes of the classic comedy, but the attention to detail applied in manifesting that setting on stage were clear from the very start.
Before the play even began, we were treated to Hero, Beatrice and co. arranging banners and practicing dance steps in preparation for receiving the returning troops, immersing the audience into the setting immediately.
The stunning costumes only added to this immersion, each character’s attire not merely suiting the era to a T, but the personal qualities and manners of those characters too.
There were likewise many individual performances worthy of praise. Chris Constantine and Naomi Miller brought great energy and vivacity to their performances of Benedick and Beatrice respectively.
Charlotte May Messer and Toby Gibbs both showed range and skill as Hero and Claudio. There were other solid depictions within the wider cast, chief of which was Matt Nation’s steely Don Pedro and Jon Thrower’s farcical Dogberry.