Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare's Globe, London
Much to love in this witty production
Monday 30 May 2011
"Comparisons are odorous," declares Dogberry, the verbally challenged constable in Much Ado about Nothing.
Comparisons – one hopes, not invidious – are also pretty inevitable at the moment, given that two high- profile productions of this great Shakespearean comedy are opening within a week of each other.
Receiving its premiere on Wednesday is the David Tennant/ Catherine Tate version for Josie Rourke at Wyndham's. First off, though, we have this glorious Globe staging. It's directed by Jeremy Herrin and stars the sublime Eve Best and that great, underrated comic/ romantic actor Charles Edwards as those bickering, ostensibly reluctant lovers, Beatrice and Benedick. It's a witty, warm-hearted and emotionally eloquent account of the play that makes the most of the Globe's matchless capacity for a buoyant rapport with the audience. It will be a double bounty if Rourke's production works as well within its own (indoor, proscenium arch) terms of reference.
"Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably," Benedick tells Beatrice. It's possible for a production to make this couple unconventional to the point of crankiness, but there's nothing too eccentrically misfit about Best and Edwards. They are both very good-looking and sexually attractive and you feel the romantic current pulsing between them as they struggle to fend off the recognition that they are sparring partners because they are soul mates. In her role as resident cynical comedienne to her family, this Beatrice's radiant, impish, audience-embracing manner indicates how unsoured she is by her lot. There's a life-affirming energy even to her negations, as when she calls Benedick in to supper by swinging a huge hand bell in his face.
It's clear from the text that this pair have had a bruising run-in in the past (his fault, I fear). The memory of this causes a momentary shadow to pass across the sunlit Best. That fact, plus the quality of the central performances, alerts one to the fact that Much Ado is first cousin to those great Hollywood comedies of re-marriage such as The Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday. And listening to Edwards as he wrings every last comic nuance out of Shakespeare's intricate prose speeches (he plays Benedick as an affable, would-be suave smoothie who uneasily knows that the audience can see through his pose of confirmed bachelorhood), you realise that you are hearing in Much Ado the birth of Restoration comedy.
In rep to 1 October (020 7401 9919)
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
They're back, they're big – and they're still spectacularly boringfilm
Review: How to Build a Girlbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Scottish independence: Former pro-union voters explain why they changed their minds to the Yes vote
- 3 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 4 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 5 Pornhub pleads with users to stop uploading videos of Brazil 'getting f**ked by Germany' in the World Cup
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories