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Much Ado About Nothing - The Watermill Theatre REVIEW

We all know by now that theatres love putting a new twist on classic Shakespeare…yet some adaptations work and some don’t. The Watermill’s production of Much Ado About Nothing is certainly the former.


We find ourselves transported back to the 1940s of Hollywood glamour for this version of Shakespeare's classic tale of love, comedy and deceit. There are a number of scenes which have been gently moulded to fit the setting so perfectly. The whole narrative lends itself naturally to being quite theatrical and over the top in its original form - I even clocked specific lines which could have been written with this specific interpretation in mind many years later.



Upon arrival we are met by a modest set, with painted flats that revolve around a clever mirrored backdrop. It cleverly becomes transparent at times, revealing scenery and key moments behind it - a bit of Hollywood flair which adds well to this style of drama.


Starting out as what feels like quite a straight play, this production allows you to tune into the rhythm of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter before cranking up the farce and allowing slapstick to take over. Some physical jokes are taken ever so slightly too far but the audience are hooked by this point, loving every gag and stunt.



The production uses its unique setting of the Watermill to its advantage, with the cast venturing out onto the balcony level and around the back of the stalls. The talented cast of actor-musicians spill out to the sides of the stages to don their instruments and bring the musical element to life sporadically throughout the evening.


This is a wonderfully uplifting twist on the play and particularly comes into its own with the final few numbers; such as Papa Loves Mambo, It Had To Be You and When I Fall In Love. These cemented smiles across every audience member’s face. Priscille Grace’s velvety voice is perfect for transporting you back to the 1940s and leading the cast through this vintage soundscape.



The entire cast was brilliant but a special mention must go to Hayden Wood, who came into his own during the interval with some hilarious crowd work, assisted by the versatile Leigh Quinn as well as Katherine Jack and James Mack who are utterly captivating as the marriage-adverse Beatrice and Benedick. They naturally end up not only married, but to each other!


The Watermill has beautifully toed the line between staying true to Shakespeare's words whilst welcoming a brilliant twist - all of which refreshes and delights in equal measures.

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