10 June 2011
Playhouse, the Arts Centre
to 25 June
Ring the bells and make much ado about this Much Ado because nothing is better than a pun-filled night of cruel deeds, fake death and unrequited lust.
Big Willy loved a double meaning and if he'd been in London in the 1960s, I'm sure he would have moonlighted as a Carry On writer. If you've ever thought that the old Bill is a bit stuffy, Bell Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing will set you straight, and leave you suitably bent.
Much Ado is one of the comedies. It's the one where the reluctant lovers Benedick (Toby Schmitz) and Betrice (Blazey Best) are duped into fancying the hell out of each other, as schmaltzy lovers Claudio (Sean Hawkins) and Hero (Alexandra Fisher) nearly break up when a really mean deception goes to plan. It's about ladies sighing no more because men are deceivers ever and reminds us that a hey nonny nonny will always feel better than a sulk.
The cast mix of experienced and less experienced actors creates a fresh and authentic balance of endless energy that will ensure that anyone not in love with Shakespeare will be by the final applause.
Schmitz lets the audience be Bendick's best friend with soliloquies that make you want to share a flagon of cider with him and talk all night, and he's matched by Best's firey and compassionate Beatrice. Bell Shakespeare favourites Arky Michael and Robert Alexander delight every moment they are on stage, while Sean O'Shea's Don John re-defines the nasty jealous uncle and Max Gilles's malaproping Dogberry shows just how much life is left in the old dog and ensures that auspicious persons will always suspect his age and place.
Then there's Stephen Curtis's design, which is part-Fellini, part-Brunswick-end-of-Lygon-Street and leaves you wanting to hug your lover from the back of a Vespa before an endless night of home made antipasto, Chianti and exhausting passion. Or at least re-embrace high-waisted pants, hair curlers and swirly net petticoats.
Directed by John Bell, this Much Ado About Nothing is an utter joy that brings every joke and every dilemma and tear out of this complex and very funny story. It left me wanting more and I think that I want "Press me to death with wit" on my gravestone.
This review originally appeared on AussieThearte.com
PS: If you're in London, David Tennant and Catherine Tate are up to Much Ado