National Theatre Live has gifted us with this wonderful production, filmed live from the Lyttelton Theatre in London. Allowing those who can't make the season in person, to experience this delightful show in the comfort of a cinema. What a joyous thing it is to be able to watch productions from across the world, that would have been missed if it weren't for NT sharing live theatre in this medium.
As one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies, this production did not let the legacy down.
Directed by Simon Godwin, this production was a feast for the eyes and a joy for the soul.
Set in the glorious aesthetic of the 1930's on the Italian Riviera at the legendary, family-run 'Hotel Messina', which has been visited by artists, celebrities and royalty. The arrival of a group of soldiers shakes up the balance and tests everyone's mood for love. A string of scandalous deceptions soon overtake the hotel and affect, in particular, the anti-marriage duo, Beatrice and Benedick.
Anna Fleischle brought the 1930's to life with her stunning set design. The colour palette is divine and makes one wish they could visit the hotel. Costume designer, Evie Gurney brilliantly matches the theme and creates an eye-catching array of costumes the perfectly suit the era. Stand outs are the beautiful costumes and masks used in the Under the Sea themed masked dance near the top of Act 1. There is a tremendous amount of detail that has gone into all the design elements that each work harmoniously to draw the audience in. Lighting is designed by Lucy Carter and sound is designed by Christopher Shutt.
In this production we are also treated to a live band, led by Music Director, Dario Rossetti-Bonell who also served as the guitarist. Accompanied by the members of what was the house band, Nicki Davenport (Upright Bass), Jessamy Holder (Woodwind), Steve Pretty (Trumpet) and Shane Forbes (Kit), who all beautifully played the score composed by Michael Bruce. The music really paired with the script and gave the show a fuller experience.
In the role of Benedick, John Heffernan stole the show. His physical comedy was on point and you could showed us his heart break in the more dramatic moments of the show. All around he gave us a fully developed Benedick that the audience couldn't help but fall in love with. A particular highlight involved ice cream, chocolate sauce and a whole lot of sprinkles. As Beatrice, Katherine Parkinson came to play. While she couldn't quite keep up with Heffernan in the comedic moments, she shone particularly in the scene when Benedick and Beatrice first admitted they loved the other. They were a well matched pair and took us on a wild ride.
Claudio (Eben Figueiredo) fell instantly in love with Hero (Ioanna Kimbook) and it's not hard to see why. Kimbook gave us a Hero with a strong backbone, who made it really difficult for the audience to believe anyone could doubt her innocence. Figueiredo's Claudio was a joy to watch fall in love with Hero. His exuberance at her reciprocating his feelings was contagious. He wore his heart on his sleeve which made it so much more painful to watch him process his heartbreak at what he perceived to be Hero's folly.
Ashley Zhangazha gave a solid performance as Don Pedro and David Judge was very enjoyable as the villain Don John, who instigated the deceipt for his own pleasure. Wendy Kweh as Antonia gave us a strong performance with a particularly wonderful mic drop moment that earned her approval from the audience and Rufus Wright as Leonarto gave a nuanced and challenged character who displayed his conflicting position.
Brandon Grace as Borachio, Phoebe Horn as Margaret and Ewan Miller as Conrade all made the absolute most of their stage time, giving memorable performances and showing all that in this play, there were no small roles. David Fynn gave his all, but didn't quite hit the mark with his self-satisfied night watchman, Dogberry. And rounding out this ensemble show was Celeste Dodwell (Ursula), Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer (Balthazar), Ashley Gillard (Lorenzo), Nick Harris (Verges), Olivia Forrest (Georgina Seacole), Al Coppola (Hugh Oatcake), Meteo Oxley (Valentino/Friar Francis) and Marcia Lecky (Volpe Puzo).
Do not miss this version of Much Ado About Nothing. This rom-com was clear, succinct, beautiful and just downright fun.
IN CINEMAS FROM 3 December 2022, for a strictly limited time.
Tickets on sale now - Find participating cinemas at ntlive.com
Running time: approx. 180 minutes (with an interval)
Participating VIC Cinemas:
Photos: Manuel Harlan