This might come as a surprise to some people, but although I completed a degree in English Literature at UEA, I didn’t once study William Shakespeare.
It’s shocking. I know.
It’s not that I don’t like Shakespeare, but I had a class that clashed with the Shakespeare unit, so just couldn’t do it. So there.
Anyway, since uni I’ve felt rather glad about the way this has turned out. In the past few years I have been lucky enough to see a number of different productions (namely at The Globe) and it’s always better than reading the plays.
Just to have a quick rant: I know that many of Shakespeare’s bigger plays are tragedies, but kids aren’t interested in reading Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy aloud in class. Fact. They should be taken to see the comedies performed by talented actors who will bring it to life and give the verse the meaning it lacks on paper.
I myself am a case in point; my favourite Shakespeare play, until very recently, was Taming of the Shrew – I studied it once when I was 11 and enjoyed the repartee between the characters, so it stayed with me. On the other hand, I also hammered Othello and wanted to kill myself – so promptly forgot it (yes, it’s a reductionist view point, but it’s mostly true!).
Much Ado about Doctor Who
Apologies for the awful rhyme.
I think most school children would benefit from seeing Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London, not only because it stars Catherine Tate and David Tennant, but because it is great fun.
David Tennant and Catherine Tate are brilliantly cast as Benedick and Beatrice – the lovers struggling to admit how they feel. They spend most of the play putting each other down, but they have such great rapport on stage – you can see they’re having fun throughout the performance. They are also both excellent at managing the quickfire dialogue.
Their comic timing is perfect too. David Tennant is a fantastic comedy actor, with some great screwball scenes reminiscent of films like Arsenic and Old Lace. And it goes without saying that Catherine Tate is an excellent comedian…
The comedy highlights of Much Ado include:
- David Tennant in a skirt
- A run-in with some paint
- Aerial acrobatics (well, sort of)
- A synthesiser
I got love for you if you were born in the ’80s
When I first read a review saying that this production of Much Ado was set in the 1980s, I was wary that it would be incredibly cheesy and wasn’t sure it would work. William Shakespeare didn’t have mullets in mind, but it was neatly done.
The director stuck to the script, even including the comedy tradition of singing and dancing (retaining hey nonny nonny to synth – oh yes!), but brought the story into a setting modern audiences would understand, like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. The two eras gelled perfectly.
The set was very cleverly managed throughout too. Using a rotating stage, different spaces wee created with quickly and often added to the performance. As I say, the aerial acrobatics were one of the highlights.
Much Ado About Nothing is on at the Wyndham’s Theatre on Charing Cross Road, until 3rd September.
(PS If you have a ticket you need to sell, I will happily go and see it again!)