Much Ado About Nothing 21.8.18

My, how fortunate we are in Greenwich! Just ten days after a fabulous outdoor Measure For Measure at Severndroog Castle we were treated to an equally wonderful alfresco Much Ado About Nothing In St Alfege Park. This time it was the work of touring company Merely Theatre, who managed to capture every nuance of Shakespeare’s most perfect comedy with its double-dealing plot, double-meaning jokes and double-quick repartee. Mostly this was because of the players, who threw themselves into their doubled-up roles with skill, feeling and unbridled energy. Emmy Rose was terrific as bride-to-be Hero and also as her foul nemesis Don John, Simon Grujich made a fine Claudio and an even better Verges, Jennifer Shakesby shone as jobsworth Dogberry and patrician Don Pedro and Andrew Hislop was magnificently stately as Leonato and the Sexton. But the play really belongs to Benedick and Beatrice and they were brought brilliantly to life by Scott Ellis – doubling up hilariously as Hero’s maid – and by Alice Osmanski, who handled the wild swings between slapstick and joy with total credibility, even while they mingled with the audience (and dipped into their picnics) during their verbal jousting and jesting. Director Abigail Anderson also managed to add an extra dimension of fun by underlining the action with terrific interventions of pop music ranging from Cliff Richard’s 1962 No1 The Young Ones to Walk The Moon’s 2014 smash Shut Up And Dance by way of Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping. I don’t recall ever seeing a more breathlessly entertaining – or easier to understand – version of this play. I look forward to the next time Merely Theatre are in town.

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