When I went: 20 April 2018
Location: Rose Theatre, Kingston
Performers: Mel Giedroyc (Beatrice), John Hopkins (Benedick), Kate Lamb (Hero), Calam Lynch (Claudio), Peter Guinness (Don Pedro), David Rintoul (Leonato), Stewart Wright (Dogberry), Peter Bray (Don John / House Clerk), Sam Dastor (Antonio / Verges), Victoria Hamnett (Margaret / Watchman (Violin and Piano)), Caolan McCarthy (Conrad / Friar), Nicholas Prasad (Borachio (Saxophone)), Katherine Toy (Ursula / Jane Oatcake (Accordian and Piano)), Silas Wyatt-Barke (Balthazar / George Seacole (Guitar and Mandolin))
Creative team: Simon Dormandy (director), Naomi Dawson (designer), Jon Nicholls (composer and sound designer), Jason Piper (choreographer), William Shakespeare (playwright)
Approximate price: £45
Special points: Farce elements, modern spa setting
Best bit: Benedick’s hiding scene
If I could change one thing: More chemistry between the leads
Much Ado is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays and has been revived in London umpteen times, as well as getting the Joss Whedon treatment in his 2012 film. It is a classic comedy with plenty of farcical elements and romances you root for, both between Claudio and Hero and between the more acerbic Beatrice and Benedick.
It doesn’t help that I saw the sparkling Tennant / Tate treatment of this in 2011, but the overwhelming impression I had of this performance was that it was mildly funny but not amazing. John Hopkins was pitch-perfect as Benedick (I previously saw him play Mr Lucas in Adrian Mole) but there just wasn’t enough chemistry between him and Mel Giedroyc as Beatrice. Both were funny and likeable individually though, and Kate Lamb and Calam Lynch were good as the tortured Hero and Claudio, which can’t be the easiest parts to play.
The modern spa setting and contemporary elements, like the onesies in the party scene, were fun to watch, and the live bits of music were entertaining enough, but the whole thing felt slightly flat, as if it just lacked the spark it needs to make the performance complete.