REVIEW: Much Ado About Nothing

PUBLISHED: 12:36 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 07 September 2010

Much Ado is a black comedy with much cruelty hidden beneath the jokiness. This production, set on a spiral stage - a little like a skateboarding park - concentrates heavily on the comedy. I

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Regent's Park

Open Air Theatre

Three stars

Much Ado is a black comedy with much cruelty hidden beneath the jokiness.

This production, set on a

spiral stage - a little like a skateboarding park - concentrates heavily on the comedy. It is definitely a production for the tourists who flock to the park every summer - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that - although inevitably much of the philosophy is passed over in favour of the fun.

Director Timothy Sheader is incredibly lucky in securing the engaging personality and comedy expertise of Samantha Spiro. Her Beatrice is a tough little creature who really needs a much more worthy opponent than Sean Campion's Benedick. He is supposed to be an heroic soldier but, without being in the least effeminate, he is a soft lovable creature and his conversion to the lover is never in question.

I felt, as I often do these days, that many of the actors were simply too efficient and therefore a bit too ordinary for Shakespeare. Tim Steed's Don John was not the villain we expect. It's a pity that the darkness and arrogance of the male population is not more exploited.

Dogberry and the gang are very amusingly led by the diminutive Antony O'Donnell - although one has been totally spoilt by the previous Ian Talbot production when they were portrayed as the characters from Dad's Army. I liked the soapbox Verges had to carry around for Dogberry to make him tall enough to question the suspects.

But having aired my criticisms about this production, I have to say that an evening in the park is always a magical one on a beautiful summer evening - and if one is British and intrepid - one can even enjoy it on a rainy one.

Until June 27.

Aline Waites

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