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Review: Much Ado About Nothing at Malvern East Central Park

Review by Mish Graham

On a balmy Saturday afternoon, while the gentle breeze blew through Malvern East's Central Park, the Melbourne Shakespeare Company transported audiences back to the enchanting world of the Bard with their delightful 60’s rendition of "Much Ado About Nothing." With a perfect blend of wit, romance, and mischief, this outdoor performance captivated hearts and minds, leaving spectators in awe and laughter.

From the moment the first actors, in police costume, stepped into the audience and began to interact, the atmosphere crackled with energy. The vibrant setting of Central Park served as the ideal backdrop for this timeless comedy, adding a sense of adventure to the proceedings. The band had their place under the cool of a tree and would step out and join the cast for a musical number. The selected songs were a joy and seemed to perfectly fit the narrative. It’s always fascinating to see the script edit of a Shakespeare play and wonder on why a line was taken here or left in there. It goes those who know the play something additional to think about.

At the heart of the production were the dynamic performances of Beatrice and Benedick, played with exquisite chemistry and charm. Their sharp-tongued banter and undeniable chemistry kept the audience on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating each witty retort and flirtatious exchange. Whether engaged in verbal sparring or tender moments of vulnerability, the actors portrayed the complexities of love and pride with nuance and authenticity. The physicality of the performers was thoroughly thought through and enjoyable to witness 

But it wasn't just the central couple who stole the show. Every member of the ensemble brought their A-game, infusing the stage with laughter and emotion. From the bumbling antics of Dogberry and his hapless watchmen to the heartfelt declarations of Claudio and Hero, each character added depth and dimension to the narrative, creating a rich tapestry of comedy and drama.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was the creative interpretation of the infamous wedding scene. Set against the backdrop of a bright garden hill, the comedic timing of the scene was impeccable. As the characters gathered to celebrate the union of Claudio and Hero, the audience was transported to a world of song, dance and romance, where love triumphs over adversity and happiness reigns supreme.

Of course, no Shakespearean comedy would be complete without its fair share of mischief and mayhem, and the Melbourne Shakespeare Company did not disappoint. From mistaken identities to clever ruses, the plot unfolded with a perfect balance of humour and suspense, keeping the audience guessing until the very end. 

But perhaps the true magic of the day lay in its ability to bring people together. As families and friends gathered in Central Park to enjoy this outdoor spectacle, there was a sense of community and camaraderie. In a world where division and discord often dominate the headlines, the simple act of coming together to laugh and celebrate the arts felt like a small but significant triumph.

In conclusion, the Melbourne Shakespeare Company's production of "Much Ado About Nothing" was a resounding success, captivating audiences with its stellar performances and timeless themes. Whether you're a die-hard Shakespeare fan or simply looking for outdoor entertainment, this enchanting production is not to be missed. Bravo to the cast and crew for a truly unforgettable evening of theatre!

Image Credit: Evangeline Kepler


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