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Hot off the Press: Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham’s and the Globe

13/06/2011

Read all the reviews for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING on at the Globe Theatre.

Read all the reviews for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING on at Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End.

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For Shakespeare ignoramuses, Susannah Clapp offered quite the revelation in her review of the West End’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING:

He could have called it “A Lot of Fuss About Fannies”. Even if you go to Shakespeare’s play without a glossary explaining that “nothing” was Elizabethan slang for “vagina” (no prizes for what “something” meant), it’s hard to miss the sexual urgency of Much Ado About Nothing.

Given Saturday’s London Slut Walk, the Omnivore has decided to reclaim the word nothing as part of its fight for equality. We wouldn’t like to be accused of doing nothing.

When it came to the Battle of the Bard’s MUCH ADOs, the Globe’s version seemed to clinch it. The Tate and Tennant combo received mixed reactions and a whole lot of very clever Dr Who references. Libby Purves in the Times thought it was nothing to write home about:

Tennant and Tate are both seasoned stage actors, but this is sell-out celebrity casting — Doctor Who About Nothing — and the production knows it. It’s reasonable fun

The Stage’s Michael Coveney thought that nothing compared to Eve Best — fresh from Stateside success in Nurse Jackie — now on fine form at the Globe:

There is plenty to enjoy in the new Much Ado at the Globe, opening a few days before the latest West End version, and most of it derives from Eve Best as Beatrice, a full-hearted, high-spirited performance that has “class” stamped through it like lettering in a seaside rock … It’s sure to be a summer crowd-pleaser, if not a landmark revival.

In the end Josie Rourke’s production at Wyndham’s proved a little bling bling for most critics who cared nothing for the eighties Top Gun setting which was meant to evoke (as the programme notes put it) “Falklands jingoism” and the “chill wind of Thatcherism”.   The New York Times’ Matt Wolf seemed to sum it up:

Both productions, interestingly, bring cheers at that climactic moment when Benedick “stops” Beatrice’s mouth with a kiss, a testament to “Much Ado”’s buoyancy, whatever the context. But if the Globe crowd erupts with a spontaneous roar I’ve rarely heard at any theater, that speaks to the difference between one production that has to contrive a party atmosphere to keep going and another that just naturally rocks.

In the Sunday Times, Christopher Hart, as ever (please consult his review of THE CHERRY ORCHARD at the National), kept his mind on nothing but the bare essentials:

The lady next to me in the Globe rested her feet on two baked-bean tins, as she said the benches were too high for her. A lesson to us all. Don’t be ashamed to take hats and gloves, cushions and rugs with you to add a bit of comfort to your Globe. Seat A29 is about the best in the house, but groundlings still get in for a fiver. Wyndham’s tickets start at £16, which isn’t bad, either, and include a £1 levy for “theatre restoration”. I hope restoration means more loos.

But let’s finish with a quotation from old Willy himself. It might have nothing to do with irritable bowels or the facilities but it’s still a corker:

In brief, since I do purpose to marry, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world can say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion.

Much Ado About Nothing, 5.4

Read all reviews for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at the Globe and at Wyndham’s plus have a look at the West End Whingers’ verdict here.

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Want to know what the critics made of the latest book, film or play? The Omnivore rounds up newspaper reviews, bringing you a cross section of intelligent opinion.

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