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Watermill Theatre

Box office

01635 46044. www.watermill.org.uk

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE.
@WatermillTh

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Reviews of Much Ado About Nothing

12th April to 18th May 2024

Review from Newbury Theatre.

On the set of a 1940s Hollywood film, the play evolves. Designed by Ceci Calf, the bare set has some film lights and flats stacked at the side. At the back is a huge screen through which we see occasional snatches of scenes.

Beatrice and Benedick are the big stars of the film: Beatrice aloof and imperious, Benedick pompous and with a high opinion of himself, and both at odds with each other – on the surface.

Don Pedro has recently defeated his half-sister Don John and they return to Messina, governed by Leonato. Benedick and Claudio are Don Pedro’s companions and Claudio falls in love with Hero, Leonato’s daughter. The two main plots relate to the on-off relationships between Claudio and Hero, and Beatrice and Benedick.

Benedick (James Mack) is a bit of a buffoon, which he plays to perfection. Don Pedro (Jack Quarton), Claudio (Fred Double) and Leonato (Patrick Bridgman) con him into believing that Beatrice (Katherine Jack) is madly in love with him and in a separate scene Hero (Thuliswa Magwaza) and her servant Margaret (Priscille Grace) con Beatrice that Benedick is crazy about her. In the original play, Benedick and Beatrice are hidden while this is going on, but here each of them is present in the scene although ostensibly invisible. This takes a bit of getting used to but leads to some extremely funny slapstick humour.

There was a strong and hilarious performance from Hayden Wood as a scene shifter in the first half and Dogberry in the second. At the end of the interval, he and his sidekick Leigh Quinn as Verges made a brilliant pair as they roped in some of the audience for action later. I’d have liked to see Verges with him again in the court scene, but this wasn’t possible with Quinn also playing Conrade (in the dock) and the Friar; very different characters and very well distinguished. Augustina Seymour was suitably creepy as Don John.

As we have come to expect from the Watermill Ensemble, there was music: 1940s style, with beautiful singing from Priscille Grace.

Tom Wentworth’s adaptation of the play works very well, but I felt that Don John’s and Conrade’s description of the plot to scupper Claudio needed to come across more clearly.

The pace was very fast and the acting was extremely good throughout. Director Paul Hart has again come up with a new view of Shakespeare which made for a most enjoyable evening.

PAUL SHAVE

There are reviews from WhatsOnStage ("every conceit and confection contributes to a glorious theatrical whole" - ★★★★); The Stage ("a cheerful, undemanding take on Shakespeare’s sharp comedy" - ★★★); Broadway World ("dazzling set design and costumes... brilliantly performed with heart (and Chaplin-esque slapstick) by a phenomenal ensemble cast... this laugh-out-loud riot is a must-watch"); Marlborough News ("this was ensemble playing of the highest order... endlessly inventive and the audience were ecstatic"); Wokingham Today ("this production reaches heights of hilarity... a frothy, fun and rollicking production... highly recommended"); Daily Info ("the latest triumph from the Watermill... a joy to watch").

Reviews in the Archive

Sherlock Holmes and the Poison Wood (February 2024)
The Wizard of Oz (November 2023)
Macbeth (October 2023)
The Lord of the Rings (July 2023)
Mansfield Park (June 2023)
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (May 2023)
Visitors (March 2023)
Notes from a Small Island (February 2023)
Rapunzel (November 2022)
The Sleeping Sword (October 2022)
Othello (September 2022)
Whistle Down the Wind (July 2022)
Camp Albion (July 2022)
Bleak Expectations (May 2022)
Our Man in Havana (April 2022)
Spike (January 2022)
The Wicker Husband (March 2022)
The Jungle Book (November 2021)
Brief Encounter (October 2021)
Just So (July 2021)
As You Like It (June 2021)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (May and August 2021)
A Christmas Carol (December 2020)
Lone Flyer (October 2020)
Bloodshot (September 2020)
Camelot (August 2020)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (July 2020)
The Wicker Husband (March 2020)
The Prince and the Pauper (November 2019)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (February 2020)
One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (February 2020)
Assassins (September 2019)
Kiss Me, Kate (July 2019)
Our Church (June 2019)
The Importance of Being Earnest (May 2019)
Amélie (April 2019)
Macbeth (February 2019)
Robin Hood (November 2018)
Murder For Two (January 2019)
Jane Eyre (October 2018)
Trial by Laughter (September 2018)
Sweet Charity (July 2018)
Jerusalem (June 2018)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (May 2018)
Burke and Hare (April 2018 and on tour)
Digging For Victory Senior Youth Theatre (March 2018)
The Rivals (March 2018)
Teddy (January 2018)
The Borrowers (November 2017)
Under Milk Wood (October 2017)
Loot (September 2017)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (September 2017 and on tour)
A Little Night Music (July 2017)
All at Sea! (July 2017)
The Miller's Child (July 2017)
Nesting (July 2017 and on tour)
House and Garden (May 2017)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of Maskerade (May 2016)
Twelfth Night (April 2017)
Faust x2 (March 2017)
Murder For Two (January 2017)
Sleeping Beauty (November 2016)
Frankenstein (October 2016)
The Wipers Times (September 2016)
Crazy For You (July 2016)
Watership Down (June 2016)
Untold Stories (May 2016)
See the Box Theatre Company review of The Sea (April 2016)
One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (April 2016 and on tour)
Romeo and Juliet (February 2016)
Tell Me on a Sunday (January 2016)
Alice in Wonderland (November 2015)
Gormenghast (November 2015) - see the Youth page
The Ladykillers (September 2015)
Oliver! (July 2015)
A Little History of the World (July 2015 and on tour)
Between the Lines (July 2015)
The Deep Blue Sea (June 2015)
Far From the Madding Crowd (April 2015)
Tuxedo Junction (March 2015)
The Secret Adversary (February 2015)
Peter Pan (November 2014)
But First This (October 2014)
Twelfth Night (November 2014) - see the Youth page
Journey's End (September 2014)
Calamity Jane (July 2014)
The Boxford Masques - Joe Soap's Masquerade (July 2014)
Hardboiled - the Fall of Sam Shadow (July 2014)
A Bunch of Amateurs (May 2014)
See the Box Theatre Company review of The Canterbury Tales (May 2014)
Sense and Sensibility (April 2014)
Life Lessons (March 2014)
All My Sons (February 2014)
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (January 2014)
Pinocchio (November 2013)
Sherlock's Last Case (September 2013)
Romeo+Juliet (September 2013 and on tour)
The Witches of Eastwick (July 2013)
Laurel & Hardy (June 2013)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (May 2013)
The Miser (April 2013)
David Copperfield (March 2013)
Sleuth (February 2013)
Arabian Nights (November 2012)
The Tempest (September 2012)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (August 2012)
Boxford Masques (July 2012)
Ben Hur (June 2012)
Of Mice and Men (May 2012)
Love on the Tracks (April 2012 and on tour)
Henry V and The Winter's Tale (April 2012)
Lettice and Lovage (February 2012)
The Wind in the Willows (November 2011)
Some Like It Hotter (November 2011 and on tour)
Great Expectations (September 2011)
Radio Times (August 2011)
The Marriage of Figaro (July 2011)
Moonlight and Magnolias (May 2011)
Richard III and The Comedy of Errors (April 2011)
The Clodly Light Opera and Drama Society (March 2011)
Relatively Speaking (February 2011)
Treasure Island (November 2010)
Single Spies (September 2010)
Copacabana (July 2010)
Daisy Pulls It Off (June 2010)
Brontë (April 2010)
Raising Voices (March 2010)
Confused Love (March 2010)
Heroes (February 2010)
James and the Giant Peach (November 2009)
Educating Rita (October 2009)
Spend Spend Spend! (July 2009 and September 2010)
Blithe Spirit (May 2009)
Bubbles (April to May and September to October 2009)
A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice (March 2009)
Life X 3 (January 2009)
Matilda and Duffy's Stupendous Space Adventure (November 2008)
The Sirens' Call (November 2008)
Our Country's Good (September 2008)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of The Recruiting Officer (October 2008)
Sunset Boulevard (July 2008)
Boxford Masques - Knight and Day (July 2008)
Black Comedy and The Bowmans (May 2008)
London Assurance (April 2008)
Micky Salberg's Crystal Ballroom Dance Band (April 2008 and on tour)
Great West Road (March 2008)
Merrily We Roll Along (March 2008)
Honk! (November 2007)
Rope (September 2007)
Martin Guerre (July 2007)
Twelfth Night (June 2007)
The Story of a Great Lady (April and September 2007, and on tour)
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (April 2007)
For Services Rendered (March 2007)
Plunder (January 2007)
The Snow Queen (November 2006)
Peter Pan in Scarlet (October 2006)
The Taming of the Shrew (September 2006 and on tour in 2007)
Hot Mikado (July 2006 and September 2009)
Boxford Masques: The Crowning of the Year (July 2006)
Hobson's Choice (May 2006)
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (April 2006)
Tartuffe (February 2006)
The Jungle Book (November 2005)
The Gilded Lilies (October 2005)
Copenhagen (September 2005)
The Garden of Llangoed (September 2005 and September 2006)
Thieves' Carnival (July 2005)
The Shed (July 2005)
Mack and Mabel (May 2005)
The Odyssey (May 2005)
Broken Glass (April 2005)
The Winter's Tale (January 2005)
Arabian Nights (December 2004)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of Whose Life is it Anyway? (November 2004)
Multiplex (November 2004)
Neville's Island (September 2004)
The Comedian (September 2004 and March 2005)
Raising Voices Again (September 2004)
Pinafore Swing (July 2004)
The Venetian Twins (May 2004)
The Gentleman from Olmedo (April 2004)
Mr & Mrs Schultz (March 2004 and on tour)
Sweeney Todd (February 2004)
The Emperor and the Nightingale (November 2003)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of An Ideal Husband (November 2003)
A Star Danced (September 2003)
The Fourth Fold (September 2003)
The Last Days of the Empire (July 2003)
Accelerate (July 2003)
Dreams from a Summer House (May 2003)
The Triumph of Love (April 2003)
Gigolo (March 2003)
Raising Voices (March 2003)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (February 2003)
The Firebird (November 2002)
Ten Cents a Dance (September 2002)
Dancing at Lughnasa (July 2002)
Love in a Maze (June 2002)
Fiddler on the Roof (April 2002)
I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls (March 2002 and March 2006)
Only a Matter of Time (February 2002)
Cinderella and the Enchanted Slipper (November 2001)
Piaf (October 2001)
The Merchant of Venice (October 2001)
Witch (September 2001)
The Clandestine Marriage (August 2001)
The Importance of Being Earnest (May 2001)
Gondoliers (March 2001)
Rose Rage (February 2001)
Carmen (July 2000)