Much Ado About Nothing, Little Theatre Company, Brewhouse arts centre. Burton.
With a cast of 19, a masked ball and more than a little skullduggery Burton’s Little Theatre Company (LTC) celebrates the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard of Avon with some panache in their production of Much Ado About Nothing.
Much Ado, is generally considered one of William Shakespeare’s best comedies, because it combines down-to-earth hilarity with more serious thoughts on besmirched honour and the politics of the day.
By means of gossip and rumour spread much for fun, but also in the case of Don John out of malice, Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into humiliating Hero at the altar in the poisoned belief that she has been unfaithful.
At the end, Benedick and Beatrice join forces to set things right as the local watch bring the villains paid for by Don John to justice.
While the story concerns two couples the tale of Benedick and Beatrice provides the humour while Claudio and Hero give us the tragic counterpoint.
Dan Tunks, who has graced many LTC productions with his sublime comedy, both in terms of timing and expression is outstanding as Benedick. His manner and gesture display an arrogance towards Beatrice tempered with an almost puppyish playfulness.
He is matched wonderfully by Vicky Fryer who is equally disdainful of him – and men in general.
The other couple, who provide the tragedy, Claudio, played by Tim Robinson, and Hero, Olivia Farthing, showed graphically how love’s young dream can be destroyed by sly whispers and false witnesses.
It is a wordy piece and many of the actors have long speeches and it is a credit to them all that there was nary a stumble. Phil Robinson as Leonato, Hero’s father, and Peter Clemson as Dogberry were ones who caught the ear.
Rob Tunley as Borachio is a slimy, slippery villain, ably abetted by Peter Banton as Conrade and Matt Bancroft sneers well as the malevolent Don John.
Director John Bowness has transported the action from Messina, in Italy, to an English country estate at the end of the First World War and the switch works remarkably well with both the setting and Shakespeare’s language.
As is usual with LTC there are fine performances from all the actors and the scene changes are smooth and subtle.
Much Ado About Nothing is on at the Brewhouse arts centre, Union Street, Burton until Saturday, June 25th. Performances commence every night at 7.30pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm.
For tickets contact the box office on 01283 508100.