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Much Ado About Nothing, Selfridge’s: ‘modern reimagining of Shakespeare is hugely enjoyable’

17:00 18 September 2016

Much Ado About Nothing, Daniel Boyd and Harry Lister Smith,  The reFASHIONed Theatre, Selfridges. Picture: Simon Annand

Much Ado About Nothing, Daniel Boyd and Harry Lister Smith, The reFASHIONed Theatre, Selfridges. Picture: Simon Annand

Archant

If there was prize for the Most Ridiculous Hyping of a Play in the West End, a serious contender could be The Faction’s Much Ado About Nothing, staged in Selfridge’s basement theatre.

If there was prize for the Most Ridiculous Hyping of a Play in the West End, a serious contender could be The Faction’s Much Ado About Nothing, staged in Selfridge’s basement theatre.

The creatives of W1 have gone bonkers. There’s a photo spread in the opulent programme of an “urban reimagining” of Shakespeare’s works. My fave is a picture of a masked Richard III doing a wheelie on a trials bike.

There are also details of a cocktail called Death of Lady Macbeth and a comparison of random Shakespearean quotes with the bon mots of Harry Selfridge. You can even tweet #gettheetoaselfridges. Honest.

Despite all this nonsense, the cast are terrific, the production is fun and accessible and the evening hugely enjoyable.

The theatre is ostentatiously hi-tech with superb sound and lighting and much use made of large TV screens offering telecast appearances by Meera Syal and Simon Callow. These could have been intrusive and gimmicky but they worked, seamlessly blending into the action.

Much Ado can be complicated and puzzling: who is doing what to whom and why? Happily, The Faction interpreted the plot to an audience that seemed to be composed of many who were perhaps seeing Shakespeare for the first time but clearly absolutely loving it.

Daniel Boyd’s Benedict was channelling a bit too much Arnold Rimmer but he worked superbly with Alison O’Donnell’s Beatrice (feisty, passionate, funny) to make their will they won’t they believable. Lowri Izzard and Harry Lister Smith bought much passion and tenderness to procure a happy ending for Hero and Claudio.

Beatrice’s uncle had become her auntie as the gorgeous Caroline Langrishe became Leonata. With a commanding stage presence, she, with Jude Owusu’s authoritative Don Pedro, firmly drove the narrative of the play.

Direction was excellent with full and subtle use made of a minimalist set.

A cracking way to end a day up town – Death of a Salesman next up?

Rating: 3/5 stars

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