Much Ado set in recent times

Much Ado About Nothing @ Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Much Ado About Nothing @ Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

By CHRISTOPHER SMITH

With lime-washed walls, half-timbering, leaded lights and panelled doors leading into a courtyard, designer Alison White gives us one of the Maddermarket's most accomplished settings. This is no Tudor palace but a Lutyens country house, for the time is 1915.

A bayonet charge, reminiscent of Blackadder's final hour, comes at the start, to proclaim once and for all that Shakespeare's play has been translated to more recent times. Whether that really enhances it is a moot point.

Endlessly inventive, responsive to every possibility in the text, with fights choreographed down to the last low blow, the production bears the stamp of John Dane. One price we have to pay for his insights into realistic psychology, though, is a certain loss of pace.

Much Ado belongs, at least in one part, to the same world as Romeo and Juliet. As it is, the moral values are under- estimated.

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At the end the merry rhythms of the turkey trot are drowned by death knell of Armageddon.

Very impressive and an echo of the start, but undermining the comedy that had been created so single-mindedly.