If you like downton, the village, Jeeves and wooster. You will like this. The setting of the stage, is brilliant. Well crafted and reminiscent of the Edwardian-I think-era.
Then there is the story. Two, interwoven romantic narratives. Tugging at the heart strings, you also feel your sides split with hysteria. Never has The Bard been so funny. Well, the propeller company’s Midsummers night dream is the closest comparison.
The setting is good, lavish, resplendent. When the ladies of France and the princess arrive, you are transported back to a window in history. The age of aristocratic elegance. The king, his courtiers, have the most beautiful dressing gowns as they swoon over their respective ladies on the roof.
The Spanish fella, and his valet, offer the second love struck story. No idea who he is, but that is the role that would be Stephen Fry’s if he fancied it. Or Alexi Sayle, for that matter. His story does lose a bit of weight and just fizzles out. I did find the scenes with the curate and master a bit superfluous. Perhaps my hearing is bad, but the master was barely audible.
The ladies do not swoon, they have the stiff upper lip here. They have the swagger of champions as the boys huff, puff and basically trip over their tongues. The boys, are in the full throes of love; as the girls push and pull without flexing a thing. They play games to agonise the boys. Shakespeare’s women, are in this instances, strong, wilful, and independent.
The play descends into a mirthful farce, song dance. The play within a play. With a cracking soundtrack, that gives the whole show a level of opulence that one wouldn’t expect for Shakespeare.
Not knowing the story, I fully expected the couples to end up together. That doesn’t happen, more fool me. Big surprise for me, given the romance. There was a lump in the throat as at the end; four soldiers march across the stage. A reminder, of how it’s partnered play ‘much ado’ is set in the same house after the Great War.
Looking forward now to ‘Much ado’.