Much Ado About Nothing


West End

Old Vic

Until Sat Nov 30 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

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2.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star:1
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  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
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UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH I felt like I was watching a rehearsal the whole time. Not even Vanessa could make it ok. my mates fell asleep in order to make it through.

Carly Olsen

I am astonished at the clutch of devastating reviews for this ground-breaking production. Admittedly, I didn't go on Press Night, but actually had booked to go last night ( September 23rd). What I saw was a witty, brilliantly acted and very cleverly 'this isn't staged at all' production which had me and a very full House laughing and cheering. the costumes and the music are wonderful, the characters from a very true place in 1944. And yes, everybody, Black American soldiers were indeed fighting for our country and based on English aerodromes...look up your history a little better before dismissing the very careful research that has clearly been done by Mark Rylance and the production team. It's true, the set is divisive, I can understand why some people find it unwelcoming, but it provides a transformative playing space,like its ancestor the Globe stage, and this is a breakthrough response to how to play Shakespeare indoors without masses of scene and lighting changes. ( both of which look glaringly anachronistic after watching Shakespeare at The Globe). This production is truly brilliant, and like all geniuses throughout history, Mr Rylance has been much maligned. he is doing something different, ladies and he did at the Globe you now know and love. And by the way, I hope I am able to be as spry as Vanessa Redgrave when I am 77. Hurrah for her; she is a National Living Treasure, another genius. Ignore those has-been critics. Go judge for yourselves!

Alice Robinson

Naturally ‘Much Ado’ is a much-loved play and its stars Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones are well-renowned, this production, directed by the fabulous Mark Rylance, was still in its previews, and so I don’t think it had quite reached the well-oiled, fluid pace it maybe has now If I’m honest, although Redgrave acted Beatrice reasonably comfortably, Jones sadly forgot his lines at one point, and even when he was acting well, his age showed; every time he came on stage a chair had to be found for him to sit on. However, I think my main problem with this production was summed up in an interview with the two leads themselves; James Earl Jones said: “For Benedick, my only feeling was that here’s a guy who’s in a world where people spin language about. I thought: I bet he is not quite up to it.” I’m afraid that personally I simply don’t agree with this. For me, Benedick and Beatrice should be the quickest, wittiest characters on the stage, outstripping all their friends and relations – that’s why they’re so perfect for each other! However, that’s not to say this isn’t worth seeing; the supporting cast pick up the slack, particularly a brilliant James Garnon (a stalwart at the Globe) as Don Pedro, an incredibly, butterflies-in-your-stomach handsome Lloyd Everitt as Claudio and Peter Wight as a very successful Dogberry. The idea of using children as George Seacole and Hugh Oatcake was very clever and Kingsley Ben-Adir fully played up to the comedy of this situation. I also liked the few lines that Katherine Carlton had as Beryl, although she kind of looked as if she was on the verge of bursting into tears quite a lot of the time – maybe it was the make-up? I liked the setting of the play during WW2; the costumes were lovely, and the scenes where Beatrice and Benedick ‘overhear’ the other’s love for each other were very well done, gaining lots of laughter from the audience. Overall, a good production, but not a great one.


This isn't a bad production, just not a particularly good one. Given the stella cast and with Mr Rylance directing, perhaps my expectations were just too high. James Earl Jones needs a little more rehearsal time and the set needs lagging - some of the dialogue is very hard to hear at full pelt, and that was in the middle of the stalls - not sure what it must have been like up in the gods. Too many echoes. I know Much Ado isn't regarded as Shakespeare's finest, but given this plays credentials, I expected more.


Three stars is possibly a tad generous but I did quite enjoy the evening - however, very glad I paid preview prices for the seats. I have no problems with a 1940s setting with American GIs in a British village but the set (a very large structure like a cheap coffee table) left me cold. Some of the acting was excellent from the other cast members and the policeman was certainly very funny. However, even with my excellent hearing I struggled with many of the cast's diction and was glad that I knew the play well enough. Overall this was a disappointing production that did seem to miss the mark on several aspects - and clearly the audience was confused with many people laughing at parts that are actually tragic. If you want to see James Earl Jones or Vanessa Redgrave, I'd go - though certainly nowhere near their finest work. But don't bother if you want Shakespeare as there must be better productions.