Gray's Inn Hall, Shoreditch (venue)
21 August 2018 (released)
24 August 2018
In the historic surroundings of Gray's Inn Hall, an Elizabethan hall usually used as a dining room for law students of the Inns of Court, Antic Disposition present a production of Much Ado About Nothing. One of the pleasure of the production is this extraordinary backdrop, in which one still feels the resonance of Elizabeth and her courtiers, who were often guests here, and where The Comedy of Errors was performed on a cold winter's evening in 1594. The story is the never-ending story of love, it tribulations, permutations, hesitations, deviations and final, happy consolations.
The plot revolves about the contrasting approaches to love of two couples – the first couple are Beatrice, a niece of the Governor of Messina, and Benedick, a nobleman in the service of the Prince of Aragon who spar and joust in verbal combat while the second, Hero, daughter of the Governor, and Claude, a young nobleman in the service of the Prince Don Pedro, coo and woo in the expected fashion. In addition to challenges of communication, there is external evil in the form of Don John, bastard brother to the Prince Don Pedro, and Borachio his side-kick whose malicious slander, works to undermine trust in Hero. These are counterpoised by the positive match-making efforts of Don Pedro. In the end, after a series of suspenseful moments, including the fear of Death and the potential for mistaken Revenge, the forces of justice, in the form of a vain and incompetent Master Constable Dogberry and his slightly more competent assistant Verges, muddle their way through to the truth and uncover the mischief, paving the way for a happy ending.
This is one of Shakespeare’s standards, light, quick-moving entertainment – but when one reflects on the drama beneath that conventional surface trajectory of love thwarted and regained, there is an underlying message that illusion and misunderstanding underlie all human relationships. For things to go right, tit seems, the effective counterbalance of the good Prince Don Pedro is needed to redress the wrongs of Don John.
The setting is reason enough to see this production and Antic Disposition's production succesfully the spirit of fun and mischief of Shakespeare's comedy with a well-paced, lively and exuberant performance across the cast and especially good use of music, dance and physical comedy.