‘Wooing, wedding and repenting’: Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing

AC Productions’ version of the Bard’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Peter Reid, finds itself transported from 16th century Messina, Sicily to the Italy of the swinging 60s, where the sharp suits and shift dresses prove to be the ideal setting for Shakespeare’s tale of love interrupted by deceit.

In the intimate setting of the Civic Theatre’s Loose End Studio, a space utterly suited for the eavesdropping and gossiping of those meddling in the romantic lives of reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick, the audience are drawn into the plot, sharing the space and the whispered secrets. The space provides the perfect backdrop for the many scenes in which the various characters spread their mistruths, for reasons both selfish and generous. The audience share in both the humour of the attempts to dupe Benedick and Beatrice into marriage and also the pain inflicted on the house of Leonato by the deceitful Don John.

Shakespeare’s tale is an exploration of the complex woes of relationships between men and women, examining the role of gossip, deceit and cowardice. While it is clearly a comedy, the play also touches on the darker side of romantic relationships and societal conventions. While Much Ado About Nothing is certainly a comedy, tragic elements remain throughout. The play is unafraid to be critical of gender expectations brought about by strict societal conventions, and examines the fall-out when these expectations are not met, or people dare to deviate from them.  The tumultuous relationships between both Benedick and Beatrice, and Hero and Claudio highlight the outcomes from any alleged refusal to comply with these conventions or attempt to defy expectation. Much Ado also finds a way to critique the very act of marriage itself, with Benedick and Beatrice both vowing against it, and Hero and Claudio finding their path to the altar littered with pain and strife.

A very strong cast filled with adept performances throughout ensure that this production is a success. Stand-out performances come from Alex Cusack as Beatrice and Nick Devlin as Benedick, who really bring their characters to life, wholeheartedly embracing the challenges of the witty barbs and battle of wits that their characters pursue.

Much Ado About Nothing is a light-hearted tale of love and relationships, which contains many truths relevant to modern times, a fact made all the more clear by the inspired decision to bring the setting up to the 1960s. AC Productions take on the Shakespearean classic is a warm, funny and thoroughly enjoyable interpretation, brought alive by an energetic cast and inventive staging.

Cara Groome Travers

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is now playing at Project Arts Centre from the 14 – 25 August 2012. Book tickets here.

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About Civic Theatre

The Civic Theatre's Mission is to mount an artistic and challenging programme of contemporary and classical Irish and international work in Theatre, Dance, Opera and Music for the community of South Dublin county and environs. History The Civic Theatre, opened in March 1999, a project of South Dublin County Council and also grant aided by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. The first production at The Civic Theatre Tallaght was Howie the Rookie by Mark O'Rowe, directed by Mike Bradwell and starring Aidan Kelly and Karl Shiels. It opened on the 23rd March 1999. Since opening we have developed relationships with most Irish theatre companies and most opera, contemporary dance, ballet and children's theatre companies, developing healthy audiences for these. We are particularly proud of our co-productions – to date we've produced; or co-produced 22 plays, involving new Irish writing. We have hosted wonderful international productions, fantastic local work, and we have had some terrific nights of music on stage at the Civic.
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