Much Ado About Nothing

The Garage, Norwich

The Garage, Norwich

Shakespeare's tale of the reluctant lovers must surely be one of my favourites.

I have secretly always wanted to be Beatrice, queen of the witty put-down. It was thought at the time that this savvy female character had been penned as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth herself.

And what a fine Beatrice Mandy Kiley made: mature, varied, credible. She reminded me slightly of Patricia Routledge with her well-timed delivery and no-nonsense style.

Actor/director David Lambert as Benedick was a perfect foil for her charms, believable as a “bachelor who did not think he would live to be married”.

The action had been transposed to post first world war Britain, which I suppose makes this 'modern Shakespeare'.

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Some people might have been disappointed by the flapper frocks and the charlestoning.

But it seemed to match the Bard's bubbling invention, and made the sense of war, death and the urgency of love somehow more tangible.

Star scenes for me were those in which the waspish would-be lovers eavesdropped “on their detractions”, unsuccessfully concealing themselves behind bushes, pillars and benches in true Marx-brother style.

A production which saw real people grappling with the highs and lows of love.

The Studio Theatre Company put Branagh's soft-focus film to shame.

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