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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/

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