Review by Lee Sarich
Produced by Attractive, Not Model Attractive, this revamped look at Shakespeares’ Much Ado About Nothing is a delightfully entertaining celebration of classic text through a contemporary disco style lens. The opening disco dance number complete with 80s coloured suits sets the tone and scene for the party ahead.
With a directorial debut and an Executive Producer credit to Madeleine Withington, high energy excitement and laughs give way to moments tender, solemn and deliciously villainous for an engagingly fun journey. Sharp and edgy but with a continuous flow, this complicated story is easily followed and understood, making Shakespeare accessibly enjoyable for an easy night out.
Halloway Jones as Beatrice carves up the stage with style and sass. Unbecomingly feisty and with razor sharp wit Beatrice begins her dissection of Benedick before he arrives and doesn’t stop until the final scene allows them both to stand pared out of their acrimonious duelling in something approaching a harmonious union.
Benedick for his part gives as good as he gets but it’s also immediately evident that their mutual taunting is based on mutual attraction, however deeply buried and denied. Steve Corner as Benedick delivers as a rambunctious cad, who through the machinations of his friends finds himself and entreats us with his coming to grips with affairs of the heart.
Don John is played by Alexander Spinks, a reserved yet suave brother to Don Pedro. Ever smited as a bastard son, his fight to improve his status sets in motion the plot to ruin the impeding marriage of Hero and Claudio, and thereby his brother who helped arrange the marriage.
Tristan Black plays Don Pedro, commandingly thoughtful in arrangement of the marriage he then sets about bringing Beatrice and Benedick together. Working against their own best instincts his steadfast composure beguiles with charm.
As Claudio, Idam Sondhi is pleasingly awkward, navigating his attraction to Hero with an endearing innocence upon which the hurt of his latter apparent betrayal and resultant spite seems understandable if not justified.
As Hero, Sarah Greenwood is sensitively demure and obedient, perhaps more the woman of her time as she accepts Claudio’s intention to marry. Seemingly powerless to correct the untrue wrong she is later accused of, it’s not until the deception is discovered and revealed that she can proceed to matrimonial bliss. In her appearance as Sexton, Sarah ably assists the confused but good natured incompetence of Dogberry and Verges at trial, providing comic contrast in a measured and sensible, energetic performance.
Suzann James plays Hero’s mother Lenonata with fiercely quiet determination to oversee the marriage of her daughter then later the punishment of those responsible for its demise.
Boracchio is played by Martin Quinn, an attendant to Don John, who is unapologetically voracious be it in his pursuit of Margaret or the zeal with which he contributes to the downfall of Hero, Claudio and Don Pedro.
Mym Kwa as Margaret is a sultry attendant to Hero who unknowingly assists the plot against her wedding. The fire and zing between and Margaret and Boracchio sizzles and ignites.
Conrade played by Nick Barraclough is another attendant to Don John, aiding Boracchio with self contained mirth.
Lib Campbell as Dogberry and Jack Elliot Mitchell as Verges make up the town constables who happen upon and thwart the deception amid their own personal antics that are a pleasure to witness. Jack Elliot Mitchell also plays the Friar reassuring the betrayed Hero with options for absolution and eventual resolution.
Production design by Ash Bell raises the exciting buzz with disco glitzy mirrored balls enhanced with lighting by Jas Borsovszky and sound by Matt Christensen. Stage managed by Natalie Baghoumian and assistant Bree Spaccavento and with intimacy coordination from Sonya Kerr, Much Ado is refreshing and uplifting.
Image Credit: Clare Hawley