Much Ado About Nothing
By William Shakespeare
A MAPPA MUNDI | THEATR MWLDAN CO-PRODUCTION
UK TOUR 29 September – 26 November 2011
“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.” Beatrice
War is over and the thoughts of homecoming soldiers turn to love. However, as conflict on the home front ends, Britain’s women are rolling up their sleeves to face a fresh battle – the assertion of their new role in a previously male dominated society. One woman in particular is about to embark on her own merry war…
Shakespeare’s popular comedy tells of two pairs of lovers. Headstrong Beatrice and proud Benedick live in staunch denial of their true feelings for each other, whilst lovesick Claudio and sweet, naive Hero are head over heels with devotion. But the path of true love never runs smooth, and with foul play and mischief afoot at the hands of devious villain Don John, this classic play promises plenty of scope for Mappa Mundi’s unmistakable style.
Over the past two decades cult Welsh theatre company Mappa Mundi have built a reputation for gloriously irreverent, populist and accessible adaptations of classic theatrical and literary works. With a well deserved reputation for quality, originality and an engaging irreverence that continues to charm audiences and win fans UK wide, this is the company’s first Shakespeare production since 2005.
Mae comedi boblogaidd Shakespeare yn sôn am hanes dau bâr o gariadon. Mae Beatrice benstiff a’r Benedick balch yn gwadu eu gwir deimladau am ei gilydd, tra bod y claf o gariad Claudio a Hero naif a thyner dros eu pen a’u clustiau mewn cariad. Ond nid yw gwir gariad byth yn rhwydd, a gyda chwarae brwnt a drygioni’r dihiryn cyfrwys Don John, mae’r clasur hwn yn addo digon o sgôp ar gyfer arddull unigryw Mappa Mundi.
Much Ado About Nothing gave 40 performances around the UK in 2011 to audiences totalling 6046 admissions.
“a plucky and likable production with a design that’s all warm nostalgia and a central couple whose sparky attraction you believe in.”
Thurs 29 Iau THEATR MWLDAN Cardigan
Fri 30 Gwener THEATR MWLDAN Cardigan
Tues 4 Mawrth ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE
Weds 5 Mer THEATR BRYCHEINIOG Brecon
Thurs 6 Iau TALIESIN Swansea
Fri 7 Gwener TALIESIN Swansea
Sat 8 Sadwrn TALIESIN Swansea
Tues 11 Mawr THE LYRIC Carmarthen
Weds 12 Mer BLACKWOOD MINERS’ INSTITUTE Blackwood
Thurs 13 Iau THE BOROUGH THEATRE Abergavenny
Fri 14 Gwener THE BOROUGH THEATRE Abergavenny
Sat 15 Sadwrn THE WELFARE Ystradgynlais
Tue 18 Maw THE COAL EXCHANGE Cardiff
Weds 19 Mer THE COAL EXCHANGE Cardiff
Thurs 20 Iau THEATR HAFREN Newtown
Fri 21 Gwener THE GRAND PAVILION Porthcawl
Sat 22 Sadwrn THE COLISEUM THEATRE Aberdare
Tues 25 Maw THE STIWT Rhosllannerchrugog
Weds 26 Mer THEATR COLWYN Colwyn Bay
Fri 28 Gwener NEUADD DWYFOR Pwllheli
Sat 29 Sadwrn GALERI Caernarfon
Weds 2 Mer TORCH THEATRE Milford Haven
Thurs 3 Iau TORCH THEATRE Milford Haven
Sat 5 Sadwrn CORNERSTONE Didcot
Tues 8 Mawrth LAKESIDE Nottingham
Weds 9 Mer LAKESIDE Nottingham
Thurs 10 Iau DUKES Lancaster
Fri 11 Gwener DUKES Lancaster
Sat 12 Sadwrn DUKES Lancaster
Weds 16 Mer THE CASTLE Wellingborough
Thurs 17 Iau THEATRE ROYAL Winchester
Fri 18 Gwener THEATRE ROYAL Winchester
Sat 19 Sadwrn THEATRE ROYAL Winchester
Mon 21 Llun CIVIC THEATRE Doncaster
Tues 22 Maw CIVIC THEATRE Doncaster
Fri 25 Gwener THEATRE AT THE MILL Newtownabbey
Sat 26 Sadwrn THEATRE AT THE MILL Newtownabbey
“A great mix of veteran and new acting talent”
Cast / Y Gast
Hero / Mistress Verges
Margaret / Mistress Constable
Creative Team / Y Tim Creadigol
Lighting Designer / Production Manager
Company Stage Manager
Lloyd Llewelyn Jones
Clare Porter, Tasha White
Press Reviews / Adolygiadau’r Wasg
After the sexy energy of their production of Dangerous Liaisons last year, Mappa Mundi’s take on Shakespeare’s romcom, featuring bickering lovers and disgraced innocence, is a gentler, quieter offering. It looks like a calm, comforting dream, too, with Carl Davies’s set all make-do-and-mend early-40s chic that couldn’t be more on-trend if it tried.
But for all the serenity, this is trademark Mappa Mundi, blending accessibility and fun while exploring the heart of the play. Director Richard Nichols is blessed with a terrific central couple: Lynne Seymour’s Beatrice, in trousers while the other women don floral dresses and heels, is commanding and alluring from the start, and Liam Tobin’s Benedick wrings every last ounce of comedy from his scenes. Their attraction, and battles along the way, convince, and enjoyably so.
Beyond this, the cast features some promising newcomers. Gwawr Loader is a fine Hero, all modesty then sudden bewilderment as she is shamed at the wedding altar, and Robin Waters is a plausible Claudio – a feat in itself, given the odd turns the character takes on flimsy evidence – after slightly hesitant early scenes.
As always with the company, music is cleverly used – especially scratchy 78s on the gramophone – but there are a couple of points where it intrudes, and feels as if characters are going to burst into song. Likewise, the playing for laughs can feel overdone: Benedick’s japes as he hides so he can eavesdrop on Claudio and Don Pedro (Matthew Bulgo) are hilarious, but a subsequent matching scene featuring Beatrice is less so. Yet these are only moments that need a little more restraint and underplaying. Overall, this is a plucky and likable production with a design that’s all warm nostalgia and a central couple whose sparky attraction you believe in.
Elisabeth Mahoney for The Guardian
Reviewed at Taliesin, Swansea
Great Mix of Veteran and New Acting Talent
This summer director Josie Rourke set her “Much Ado About Nothing” in an early nineteen-eighties Gibraltar “a world of crisp navy uniforms, clear class distinctions and high-spirited post-Falklands partying.” Mappa Mundi director for this year Richard Nichols relocates Messina to a spacious between-the-wars garden terrace. While David Tennant made his entry on a golf buggy the soldiers of Mappa Mundi, Matthew Bulgo’s serious Don Pedro apart, enter in kilts.
Carl Davies’ set has a balustrade, wicker chairs, a little lamppost, a garden bench. Early on, the company joins for a Scottish-tinged courtly dance. In the evening light (lighting designer James Smith) below four swags of fairy lights the production achieves a deep elegiac quality. After the moral savagery of 2010’s “Dangerous Liaisons” this “Much Ado About Nothing” is pervaded with a sense of quiet likeableness.
The cast features Mappa Mundi veterans but the company has also recruited three members of RWCMD’s class of 2011. Robin Waters gives to his Claudio a sense of vulnerability and shading from the outset. Rhys Downing’s baleful Don John lets his malice spill out in an alliterative line like “apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief.” Gwawr Loader, in her first professional role, lives up to the promise from her last production in April this year. Her playing of Hero, possessed of charm and stage presence, becomes all the more effective when the role turns to anguish.
John Cording inhabits Leonato with an appearance of ease, an early chuckle of amiability leading to later pain. Liam Tobin’s Benedick, endowed with a crisp intelligence, still splutters out his drink when hearing that he is the object of Beatrice’s amorous interest. He puts on a growly “rrrrr” of frustration, takes a deep gulp of breath before pronouncing “honourable marriage.”
“Much Ado about Nothing” comes with some characteristic Mappamundian touches. After noisily revealing his presence, Benedick covers himself with a loud “miaow.” Peter Knight’s music has piano and lilting guitar but also some Puccini, sung in German, on scratchy twenties vinyl. Nicola Reynolds doubles Margaret with the role of the Constable. In a jaunty performance she deals out to Gareth Pierce’s Borachio a hefty whack with her handbag.
Adam Somerset for Theatre In Wales website
Reviewed at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, October 5th 2011