Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre
2022 is apparently the year for Much Ado About Nothing as Shakespeare’s comedy opens in a second South London riverside national treasure of a theatre (it just remains for the Southbank Centre to do a version to complete the set). And though it seemed the Globe wouldn’t be beaten in the battle of the Much Ados this year, the National Theatre has actually gone and ever so slightly won.
For those that don’t know it, Much Ado About Nothing is a romcom full of ploys – some dark and wicked, others light and more than a little silly. Ultimately, it follows two would-be couples, Beatrice and Benedick (Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan), and Hero (Ioanna Kimbrook) and Claudio (Eben Figueiredo). The former couple initially want nothing to do with love, while the latter are struck immediately. Throw in some of the greatest slapstick comedy and you’ve got yourself Much Ado About Nothing.
This particular version takes place in the Hotel Messina on the Italian Riviera. It’s a gorgeous and incredibly clever set as, with some theatrical magic (or smart logistical planning, to be boring about it), the audience is transported between different rooms of the hotel. A central space, forming a large and grand part of the set, changes completely seamlessly. Furthermore, the art deco style is really very beautiful, and the aesthetic details are captivating.
But even the set is not as captivating as the cast. Parkinson is perfect for the role of Beatrice with her sharp, cutting wit, and there can’t be many Benedicks better than Heffernan. David Fynn as Dogberry – an utterly gormless security chief – is a real joy to watch too. These three are all fantastically funny and together are the biggest reason the show is well worth seeing.
The National Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing is the premiere Much Ado of the season. There are some elements that aren’t quite as good as the also-excellent version being played just a few doors down the river but, overall, thanks to the big-budget set and the big-budget cast, it’s just got a little extra shine.
Much Ado About Nothing is at the National Theatre from 28th July until 10th September 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: