Review: Much Ado About Nothing - ‘fun, funny and fabulous’

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, presented by Cambridge University Marlowe Society at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, February 5. Review by ANGELA SINGER.

FUN, funny and fabulous. You would not think that the lines had been written more than 400 years ago – well actually some of them weren’t, not when Benedict reads Beatrice’s love letter at the end of the play and raises his eyebrows at where she has put an apostrophe.

When Benedict (a superb Nick Ricketts) is being deceived into thinking that Beatrice loves him, they are indeed the Bard’s words but said so genuinely it is as if the characters really are thinking on their feet - so that we hear them as if for the first time. Lovely!

This beautifully delivered play is lusciously relaxed. The understated performances bring out all the humour. The cast is completely at home and so is the audience. There is just the tiniest touch of panto.

The wedding party arrives down the aisles and arm in arm, Simon Haines as Leonato and Mairin O’Hagan as Hero, greet the people they pass and thank them for coming. When ‘Hey Nonny No’ is sung to a guitar, the words appear on clothes on a washing line and the audience joins in. But this aside, the humour comes from wonderfully dapper performances.

Directed by Carl Heap, this is an ensemble work with great casting throughout – everyone is highly accomplished. However, Giulia Galastro is an inspired Beatrice. She makes the witticisms sound as if these are just the things she always says. She is very Beatrice, more Beatrice than any I have seen anywhere.

Simon Haines is a master of comedy. Any comic part will appear to have been written for him because he makes it like a second skin. Michael Campbell as Dogberry was arresting – an authoritative presence, which deserved its own round of applause, if there had only been a spot in the proceedings for it. This was an Ado to make much of.