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/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Last Ship at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

When The Last Ship first launched as a musical on Broadway (adapted from a concept album by Sting), it was received with a mixture of reaction, most thoughts though of the negative nature, the critics especially found the whole thing far from shipshape. Here, having launched in its spiritual home of Newcastle, it arrives in very landlocked Northampton on a UK tour in a very different form. Characters have been dropped, songs have been reordered, storylines reworked, and original cast members are gone. So, whether the US audience would have been appreciative of this new The Last Ship is unknown, however, there is an incredible amount to like from this show and on Northampton opening night reactions, the audience here is liking what they see.

Gideon has returned, having taken to the seas 17 years before, leaving his girlfriend Meg behind and a strong and stable shipyard in operation. On his return, things are very different, not least for Meg, who is initially not keen on his return, f…

Review of Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I am personally all about making Shakespeare accessible, I take the Emma Rice line, that many were not keen on, that after a few hundred years, it's perhaps worthy of mixing it up a bit to make it more meaningful to a modern audience. I have a feeling the man himself would have no qualms about seeing his classic Hamlet transposed into a garish multi-coloured world, set in a much more hip place.
The Denmark that we see here and that is still referenced, is now very much an African country, and not just because of the heavy black actor casting, this is all about a style and a carnival feeling to many of the scenes. Music is provided by tribal-like drums, and characters stalk the scenes carrying handguns and rifles, bringing a modern feeling to the conflict as well. This is certainly not the "rotten state of Denmark" that most Shakespeare aficionados are familiar with.
Characters are changed drastically as we have more cocksure, swaggering, modern feeling to the individual…

Review of Madame Bovary by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Rosanna Lowe's version of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was originally commissioned by Simon Godwin for the Northampton Royal Theatre, so it perhaps seems apt, that it returns to a stage of the same town, in this new wacky interpretation from Masque Theatre.

Masque's publicity for the show, describes it as a "madcap tragedy", and for those more familiar with Flaubert's novel you shall perhaps be a little surprised by the anarchic version created here. This is tragedy played for full-on slapstick effect, and while at times it might seem overwhelming in its intensity, the ride we are taken on is a delight.

Directed by Tamsyn Payne and Alex Rex and a team of talented creatives, Madame Bovary's props and design are every bit as important as the talented cast wielding them. For an amateur production, the attention to detail is nothing short of staggering. Gloriously created books filled with delights, puppet dogs and children, mini nuns, and little baskets…