Thursday, December 14, 2006
Much Ado about Something
It’s mid December and, along with Christms present panic (two weeks to go and shamefully little done), come those inevitable end-of-year round-ups in the papers, all the critics busy picking their best plays and whatnot, summarising a year’s worth of theatre in a few snappy paragraphs.
I’m not sure I like the process - though I read them all of course, I always read them – it seems to leave little room for the plays that moved you on some level but that might not have been the most polished or successful of productions, the interesting failures, the guilty pleasures. So I’m not going to inflict my top five on you here, (not yet anyway – I may cave). Having said that, the play I saw last night may well be a candidate for such a theoretical list. I was at the lavishly revamped Novello for the opening of the London transfer of the RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing. Being one of about three people in the UK who found Green Wing terminally unamusing (all those little speeded up bits did nothing to make it any funnier) I wasn’t overly thrilled at the casting of the angular Tamsin Grieg as Beatrice, but though I thought she overplayed wildly at times, she gradually won me over. As did the entire production. Set in pre-revolutionary Cuba, Marianne Elliot’s production was a wonderful, uplifting affair, full of music and dance, and brilliantly performed - especially, I thought, by Patrick Robinson as the Prince, an actor I first saw on stage some ten years ago when my A Level class went to see a touring production of The Country Wife at Woking Theatre. (Christ, my A Levels were ten years ago? Now I feel old).
All of the supporting cast were excellent and were it not for the large gentleman in the seat next to mine who slept (and snored) pretty much through the entirety of the first act, it would have been almost perfect. Still, it was definitely the best Shakespeare production I’ve seen this year.