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 Blue Road by R&D Young Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have a 100% strike record with the wonderful Youth Theatre group at Royal & Derngate, they have never let me down with a show and sometimes with those of Sweeney Todd and Kontact, have provided me with some of the very optimum theatre points of each year. The Blue Road, their very latest production for me is slightly less successful.

However, it thankfully and perhaps not surprisingly, is nothing to do with the constantly talented bunch of actors that gather in this group. My problem lies in two places, of play selection and the way it is told. The Blue Road chronicles the story of a group of young people on the backend of a not totally described crisis, and this, unfortunately, is where we were more or less just two years ago with the Young Company and their show Immune. I have always been interested in these post apocalyptic stories and often love them, however for the same group to do two so close together feels a shame. They challenge certainly, but I am sure there are many…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…