develish1

Just a few random thoughts and pictures

Review of Much Ado About Nothing…

As promised, here’s a review of the play, kindly written for me by my wonderful man, since he’s less less likely to squee than me and knows lots of big words…

Please note though, that I’ve copied this word for word, so any typos are all his doing, lol. I’ve also included scans of one of our tickets, edited to remove the full name of the person who bought it, and the price she paid, and scans of autographs we managed to get. Catherine’s might be a bit dificult to read though, since she signed it in silver ink. Anyway, in his own words, here are hubby’s thoughts on it…

“My partner and I got the opportunity to get FRONT ROW tickets to a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, starring David Tennant & Catherine Tate, at the Wyndham Theatre in London’s West End. The shows are virtually all sold out for the entirety of its three month run, so when Dawn’s virtual friend Sue offered a ticket she jumped at the chance. Later, when Sue asked if I was interested in attending and would I like a ticket too, I said yeah why not, never dreaming that she’d be able to get hold of another ticket. Lo and behold, there was the ticket; all three for the front row.

Now, I’m not a culture vulture. I don’t wear tweed or smoke a pipe. I have only ever seen Shakespeare plays twice before – once as a school trip and last year Dawn and I & went to see John Simm in Hamlet at the Crucible in Sheffield. (Keen eyed observers will have already seen the link; for the rest of you… Doctor Who connects the actors previously mentioned). Nevertheless, I was keen to see how a Shakespearean comedy played when translated into a modern idiom.

Perhaps translated is the wrong term to use. The language was untouched. The setting had been brought almost right up to date, during the 1980’s, with some basic props pointing the way; I never thought I would ever see a old cassette playing ghetto blaster, a Rubik’s cube and an old Bontempi keyboard in a Shakespeare play, but to the credit of all concerned they never seem out of place. There are a few stylistic flairs with the wardrobe but for the most part it all looks contemporary and fits well with the setting.

The overall tone is set right from the start when Tennant makes his entrance on an electric golf cart. Yes you read that right: He drives onto the set in a golf cart covered in Union Jacks (and one Scottish pennant). Soon after this is a masked ball with a range of 80’s styled costumes including Indiana Jones, Michael Jackson’s Thriller outfit, Catherine Tate dressed like one of the Blues Brothers… and I think that Tennant was supposed to look like Madonna, circa Desperately Seeking Susan. It was a little difficult to tell – the red Dr. Marten boots & matching garter threw me for a while.

If you’ve seen a Shakespearean comedy before you already know that they tend to follow similar themes of deception and misdirection, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. In this play you get both. A practical joke is played on Tennant & Tate’s characters pushing them together into a relationship. At the same time another more malicious trick is being played on the lovers (soon to be wed) Hero & Claudio, played by Sarah MacRae & Tom Bateman. The plot winds the tales of the two couples together in a quite complex manner, but the viewer never gets lost. This may be down to the spartan but effective set, consisting basically of four pillars that change configuration to suit the scene & a rotating stage that brings static setpieces to life with movement and separates one story from the other. As an example… there are two similar scenes which are engineered to give Tennant’s character Benedick & Tate’s character Beatrice the impression that one loves the other. Both scenes are played for slapstick laughs with Tate flying through the air on a wire and Tennant “accidentally” covering himself with paint. Both scenes take place on the same set with the columns providing cover for both parties as they eavesdrop on conversations that are intended to be heard by them.

Later, whilst the set is rotating, the trick played on Hero & Claudio takes place; a simple change in lighting makes this scene feel much more sinister in nature.

The cast all performed their roles admirably. Don John, played by Elliot Levey is the villain of the piece and looked it from the moment he stepped on stage. I had the opportunity to congratulate the actor personally after the show, and he seemed genuinely pleased to be complimented, if a little anxious to get home – I didn’t delay him. His henchmen Borachio (Alex Beckett) & Conrade (Lee Knight) were also suitably shifty and untrustworthy.

Jonathan Coy & Anna Farnworth play Governor Leonato & his wife Innogen. they are given the opportunity to play gracious hosts and loving parents, later vengeful and grieving. In both cases the performances are solid and powerful. The lovers Hero & Claudio are also well played by two young actors. Sarah MacRae reminded me of Sarah Alexander from Smack The Pony & Green Wing, while Tom Bateman reminded me of Orlando Bloom… only better. Adam James played Don Pedro, a master manipulator who positions both couples together. His brother John’s actions are those which threaten to rip both couples apart, so he plays the Yin to Elliot Levey’s Yang; an upright, noble man who believes he is both right and doing the right thing for the right reason.

Also deserving special mention are the unashamedly comedic members of the Watch, played by John Ramm, Mike Grady, Clive Hayward and Nicholas Lumley. These guys are Shakespeare’s Dad’s Army; useless bumbling idiots who manage to apprehend some of the main villainous characters despite themselves. There are several more performers, including three child actors playing a character’s son (on rotating shows, I assume) all of which are terrific.

And then there’s Tennant & Tate.

They are both clearly having a whale of a time, throwing things at each other to see what will bounce back. There was an obvious chemistry between them on Doctor Who and it hasn’t gone astray. Tennant performs in his natural Scottish brogue; Tate occasionally digs into her character voice bag to amuse, but the familiarity doesn’t disappoint. We are all well aware of Catherine Tate’s comic talents, but David Tennant’s comedic prowess came as a bit of a surprise. He is a gifted physical comic who could probably give Lee Evans a run for his money, and his delivery of his lines was relaxed, natural and sometimes hilarious. We need to see this side of David more often.

Just one more thing:- The complete performance has a rather relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to it. This may be down to the copious amounts of booze that is consumed throughout the play by the cast. Beer, wine, whisky, champagne – there’s somebody drinking in almost every scene. All right, some of it can be faked with apple juice or the like… but can you really fake opening a can of Carling lager? Or the opening of a champagne bottle? If you can, I’d like to know how. Seriously, I would love to know…

I’d say if you get the opportunity to see this performance, go. Unfortunately this may not happen, so go find the online petition to produce a full cast DVD recording. You know it makes sense!”

And there you have it. I think you’ll agree hubby clearly enjoyed it, and you knew I would, lol. So, to end on a thoroughly shallow note, as thud-inducing as the picture below might be, it’s nothing compared to seeing him in that dress uniform up close. And we were close, so close in fact that Sue had decided the length of his leg hair by the end of the night, lol

Finally, if you haven’t yet added your voice to the calls for a DVD of this show, and would like to, here’s a link to the Petition, and the Facebook site.

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June 10, 2011 - Posted by | Picture Of The Day, Random Thoughts | , ,

4 Comments

  1. That was a lovely review, I enjoyed reading it and it’s good to hear you both enjoyed the play. I’m amazed you were able to get autographs from both of them! I’ve only seen the stage door signings posted on youtube and there seems to be so many people.

    I absolutely love David’s picture in the program, thanks for posting. I was at work when I read your teaser post before this and laughed right out loud. My co-workers likely think I’m insane!, but if David was gyrating in front of me you wouldn’t be able to wipe the grin off my face (and that would be rude), I did grin for some time after reading it…

    Comment by wish_it_would | June 10, 2011

    • I’ll pass your comments on to hubby 🙂

      yes, the gyrating was, well, distracting to say the least, lol. AS was the mini skirt and garter *snort*

      Comment by develish1 | June 11, 2011

  2. Now I simply can’t wait to get on the plane 🙂

    Do share a bit about The DW Experience as well please!

    Comment by Belle D`Arcy | June 13, 2011

    • I plan to post something about it later this week Belle, as soon as I get the photos from hubby. They’re on his new camera still, and to be honest I don’t know where he put it when we got home, lol

      Comment by develish1 | June 13, 2011


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