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Review: Much Ado About Nothing at Rose Theatre Kingston

PUBLISHED: 09:35 24 April 2018

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare at The Rose Theatre, Kingston (Photo by Mark Douet)

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare at The Rose Theatre, Kingston (Photo by Mark Douet)

Photo by Mark Douet

Is there anything Mel Giedroyc cannot put her hand to? Despite parting ways with the Great British Bake Off when it moved to Channel 4 last year, she’s barely been off our TV screens; hosting Let It Shine, and Eurovision, as well as The Generation Game alongside her best pal and comedy sidekick Sue Perkins.

And now, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations for Rose Theatre Kingston, she leads a stellar cast in Simon Dormandy’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing - Shakespeare’s comical tale of a slandered bride.

Dormandy has modernised the play by setting the action within a contemporary luxury spa hotel (the set design by Naomi Dawson rather spectacularly plays to the architectural strengths of Rose Theatre) but has kept to the play’s origins by basing the hotel within the Mafia-world of Sicily, where family loyalty is underpinned by personal violence and vendetta – a central theme of the plot.

Giedroyc stars as Beatrice, the feisty feminist hotel manager who is in a bitter, albeit rather humorous, love feud with the chauvinistic Benedick, played by John Hopkins (Poldark, Midsomer Murders).

While back from college visiting her father Leonato (played by David Rintoul) at the hotel, Beatrice’s cousin, Hero (Kate Lamb), catches the eye of a group of her father’s friends, led by Dom Pedro (played by Peter Guinness).

One of Dom Pedro’s henchmen, Claudio (Calam Lynch), confesses he has fallen for Hero and they get set to wed. That is until another of Dom Pedro’s entourage, Don John (Peter Bray) decides to cause havoc and devises a plot to ruin their chances of happiness. Of course, this is Shakespeare so there has to be tragedy somewhere along the way.

Meanwhile, Benedick and Beatrice resume their war of witty insults and, to this end, Giedroyc and Hopkins’ comic timing is impeccable both in their scenes together and apart. Some seemingly-sporadic improv in places only serves to add to the hilarity of their performances.

The pair are only ever so slightly pipped to the ‘best comic performance’ post by Stewart Wright (Nativity 3: Dude Where’s My Donkey) who had the audience in stitches as the effervescent head of law enforcement, Dogberry.

But in his professional theatre debut, Calam Lynch (Dunkirk) is magnificent as the solemn Claudio, managing to hold his own as anarchy unfolds around him.

For those who struggled to study Shakespeare at school, this is a chance to try again and perhaps not fall at the first hurdle.

In fact, young, old and all those in-between, whoever you are, go and see it. This is truly Shakespeare for everyone.

Much Ado About Nothing is at Rose Theatre Kingston until Sunday 6 May 2018. For tickets visit rosetheatrekingston.org or tel: 020 8174 0090.

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