Much Ado about Nothing

Burnside Players - December 2007

Comedy Version

Shakespeare’s play much ado about nothing is one of the more commonly performed of his repertoire. So, for a company to make this production a success there needs to be a clear point of difference, something that would separate their version from all of the others.

Burnside players have attempted to revitalise this piece by writing an alternate ending – based on the premise that all Shakespeare is either comedy or tragedy dependant on whether the main characters either marry or die at the end.

The comedy version is as written, true Shakespeare. The alternate ending has been written for the tragedy. However, whilst the cast all appear to work very hard, it is evident that they have little understanding of the text. Given the wordiness and difficulty of Shakespeare it is important that first and foremost the actors understand the dialogue they are delivering, if the actors don’t understand it, the audience don’t have a hope!

Good performances come from a few of the lead roles; Joanna Patrick as ‘Beatrice’ is very passionate and energetic though at times a little melodramatic. Jamie Wright as ‘Claudio’ maintains good focus and stillness, unlike many of the other actors who cover the lack of understanding of the dialogue by pacing. Selena Bradbrook is strong as ‘Margaret’ and Nathan Troisi as ‘Dogberry’ and Bonnie-Fay Henry-Edwards as ‘Verges’ offer some light hearted moments and nice comedy, though their characterisations are often too much and should have been directorially controlled.

The setting and lighting is awkward, and although costuming all matches, the overall look is reminiscent of the end of year production in primary school. Long and difficult to watch.

Paul Rodda