James Menzies-Kitchin's production won't be able to match the dust-kicking entrance of the men returning home on horseback, (young guns go for it), but despite that he has interesting ideas, replacing Chiantishire countryside with striking costumes from an Indian fabric shop in Leamington Spa.
Fiona Shaw will play Richard II at the National later this year, but otherwise Deborah Warner will be casting the play traditionally. At the Southwark Playhouse, whose successes include the recent all-male The Rivals, it comes as a refreshing change to find a director creating women's roles, particularly when in Shakespeare (as everywhere else) they are in very short supply. There are just four women in a cast of 18, but this production of Much Ado About Nothing (above) has 11 women's roles. With the men away at war, women have been forced to take on men's jobs, so Dogberry and the watch are played by women. With luck, this will solve all manner of problems and remind audiences that these scenes are genuinely funny: something Branagh signally failed to do.
`Much Ado About Nothing' previews at the Southwark Playhouse on 4 Apr and opens on 6 Apr (071-620 3494)Reuse content