Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe
Kicking off the Globe’s summer season and running through to the end is a rolicking good Much Ado About Nothing – one of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies, letting loose all sorts of wickedly fun trickery. The story revolves around two romantic couples, Claudio and Hero, and Benedick and Beatrice, who are brought together during the play.
This version is an almost modern retelling, taking place around about the mid 1900s, if the costumes are anything to go by. The production’s a little slow to find its feet and perhaps also to end, but for the 80% in between, it’s riotous good fun.
The show misses no opportunity to amplify the humour created by the Bard, making this one of the funniest versions audiences will ever see. There are endlessly funny comedic combinations of Ralph Davis (as Benedick), Joanna Howarth (Antonia), George Fouracres (Dogberry), Patrick Osborne (Claudio), Lucy Phelps (Beatrice), Ferdy Roberts (Don Pedro) and Katy Stephens (Leonata) and, well, every other member of the cast. And a last-minute change to the lineup that saw Philip Cumbus filling in the role of Boracio showed not only Cumbus’s remarkable talent for being thrown in the deep end, but also provided perhaps the funniest moment in the form of an improved line about needing his script.
Lucy Phelps and Katy Stephens must be mentioned further for their powerful presence on the stage, delivering not just the comedy but many of the best moments otherwise.
Seeing Shakespeare at the Globe is always a special experience and it is wonderful that they have not taken that for granted by putting on something subpar. Instead, every effort has been made to make this a highlight of everyone’s summer, even if it’s put on anywhere else. But, of course, the unique and famous venue is present throughout and, as is often the case with performances there, is very much the star of the show. This year’s set is breathtaking, see-it-to-believe stuff: gloriously rich, detailed and beautiful garden scene that perfectly frames the show.
All in all, it’s unlikely that any of Shakespeare’s comedies will be done better this year.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Much Ado About Nothing is at Shakespeare’s Globe from 29th April until 23rd October 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.