Skip to main content

Review of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare performed by The Masque Theatre at Abington Park, Northampton

After Richard III, Macbeth, Troilus And Cressida and King Lear, to be honest I had had my fill of Mr Shakespeare this year. I am never going to say I am his biggest fan, however the heady combination of the lovely Masque Theatre, Abington Park and finally some actual light relief from old Bill was enough to create my presence at the show.

I had an eye to the sky as I hoped the rain would keep away for my final and only chance to see Much Ado About Nothing, and despite a final heavy shower at just after six. My seat was dry by my arrival at the newly green flagged Abington Park, and the de-registered Abington Park Museum (no politics here!). I could not remember my last foray into the courtyard of the museum but it looked as lovely as ever and was to provide my very first outdoor theatre performance encounter.

Director Matthew Fell's production of Shakespeare's comedy transfers the story to a pre-First World War England and tells the tale of two troubled and complicated romances between Hero and Claudio and Benedick and Beatrice.

While its safe to say that the whole cast performed with gusty, John Myhill as Benedick was quite clearly the pick of the talented performers. His clowning behind the deck chair was really a delight and he also carried well the more serious parts of the early second half when things did get a little heavier. His would be lady Beatrice was also gloriously well played by Rachel Bedford, at one point demolishing the trellising with quality buffoonery. The other would be couple were also splendidly played with Hero tenderly played by Hannah Burt. Likewise as her suitor, Edward Toone depicted the love, the devastation and the love again well as Claudio.

As I said above, everyone else is wonderful, but I must make my final cast mention for Lisa Shepherd as part of the Watch. I saw Shepherd in No Way Out (review here) and while she was excellent in that, the role (and indeed play) were all a touch dowdy in relief, but in this; her admittedly smaller role, she was absolutely wonderful. The face of a clown throughout and just endlessly hysterical playing the stoopid guard!

The set and layout of the courtyard was excellent with very good use of the space with cast members entering from four sides. And as ever the presentation of the whole evening was very professionally organised.

Overall my best Shakespeare experience of the year, not doing a single one of the others down for quality. It was just a wonderful relief to be finally seeing something fun from Mr Shakespeare.


Performance reviewed: 2nd August, 2014 at the Abington Park Museum Courtyard, Abington Park, Northampton. 


Much Ado About Nothing was performed by the Masque Theatre between Thursday 24th July and Saturday 2nd August, 2014 at the Abington Park Courtyard, Abington Park, Northampton.
Details of the Masque Theatre can be found at http://www.masquetheatre.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Blue/Orange at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The challenging and socially relevant Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall was published in 2000 and back then, this caustic exploration of mental health, and more specifically black mental health issues, was a tremendously relevant play. When it debuted on stage in London, the cast of just three was played by Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Director James Dacre doesn't have those names to play with so much in his cast, however here, he has worked with the writer himself to rework the play for a more modern audience. Does it still shock, and is the relevance still there today? Sadly, perhaps, the answer is yes, as doctors Bruce Flaherty and Robert Smith come to verbal blows over the health of patient Christopher, at times, you feel 21 years shed little light on how mental health is approached. Many references in the script, still sit unquestionably in the year 2000, however, with this reworking, one thing has changed dramatically. In the original version of the play, the two

Review of Sister Act by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

South Pacific at Royal & Derngate last year set a remarkable benchmark for an "amateur" production, with a large talented cast, superb vocals, sets and a polish up there with a professional production. Sister Act, this years production from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company was more of the same, but perhaps taken up a notch or two. Sister Act is a musical based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg comedy and was first performed in 2009. Written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, it is a likable and fun musical which genuinely came as a surprise to me. The opening scene at Curtis's Bar and Nightclub is to be honest not the best though and genuinely didn't fill me with much hope. It feels as if it gives nothing to the cast, although it creates the premise of the story coupled with the incident outside the bar. Likewise, I didn't take much to the Police Station scene either, so it didn't bode well. When we reach the Queen Of Angels Cathedral though, this show

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c