Much Ado About Nothing

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Is there anything better than watching theatre in the beautiful Tymperleys’ garden on a warm summers evening? Probably not, especially when it’s the performance from This Is My Theatre group – passionate actors bringing theatre to rural locations.

There is always wonderful music before the show as the actors show off their singing and musical talents with a number of acoustic songs which feel forgone yet brought to life with their lovely harmonies.

The last time I saw ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, there were 18 members in the cast, this performance has 5 actors, I wonder how it will pan out?

Much Ado is a complicated romantic comedy with a focus on two main couples:
Claudio & Hero – Claudio likes Hero but too scared to say anything.
Benedick & Beatrice – two independent people who have no interest in romance.

But of course, as it’s Shakespeare it’s full of games, strategy, irony, and deception and brothers Don John & Don Pedro seem to be in the thick of the shenanigans.

There is a masked ball and it’s a chance for Don Pedro to pretend he is Claudio and chat up Hero in order to give their relationship a push in the right direction, however Don John tells Claudio that Pedro is chatting up Hero for himself! Oh, this makes Claudio cross but it all gets sorted and finally Claudio and Hero plan to wed.

Meanwhile, Don Pedro and his crew think up a plan to get Benedick & Beatrice together by making sure they each hear conversations about the other being in love with them. Benedick & Beatrice are delighted with the thought of someone in love with them and begin to get closer and yes fall in love for real!

Don John plots to stop the wedding of Claudio & Hero buy paying sentries to say they saw Hero being unfaithful. Claudio is gutted, Hero is distraught as her reputation is ruined, even though it is not true. Claudio is told that Hero has killed herself, and of course is devastated, however her father tells Claudio he must now marry Antonio’s daughter and who is actually Hero – everyone is happy.

It’s a complicated story yet this adaptation makes it simple and easy to watch. All dressed in army gear, the five actors play all the different parts with the simplest of costume changes, well not so much of a change but an addition of a hat or scarf, or sunglasses. However, as subtle as the costumes are, the characterisations are dramatic and the actors are totally absorbed in each character, from different accents, facial expressions and demeanour – they are truly possessed by the character they are playing at the time. It’s wonderful to observe.

Scene changes are carried out whilst singing and therefore clearly not the story, and we need to remember this is theatre in the garden, where there are minimal props, no stage hands, curtains or a technical support crew: the actors do everything, even checking tickets.

This was a delightful performance where all the characters and Shakespeare’s humour came to life and I urge people to check out a This Is My Theatre’s performance this summer.

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