Director Alison Munro has produced a thoroughly enjoyable version of Shakespeare’s comedy.
The key players, Beatrice and Benedick are perfectly cast. The “will they won’t they” romance between the two played by Vicky Dawes and Craig Walton is a joy to watch. Even during their public, sarcasm-tinged verbal jousting, their mutual affection is clear. When they finally admit their feelings for each other in private it’s a genuinely sweet and touching moment.
The other romance between Hero and Claudio seems to be more straightforward. Jaimie Watts plays the headstrong officer to Don Pedro with verve and passion whilst Emma Wass is more demure with her interpretation of Leonato’s daughter. Neil Sullivan dressed all in villainous black is malcontent Don John, Don Pedro’s brother. He hatches an unseemly plan to sully Hero’s reputation.
Luckily Michael Dempsey’s inept policeman, Dogberry, somehow foils Don John’s plan. Dempsey’s Watchman appears confident but after careful listening to the verse it is clear he speaks utter gobbledegook. John Ansari plays Leonato with his usual gravitas. Ed Bancroft arranges and performs the guitar music.
Apart from Dogberry’s “deliberate malapropisms” the players mainly speak the verse slowly enough and enunciate clearly so little is lost in translation. As always The Company have some great costumes on display. In particular the officers have red tunics, trousers and boots with seemingly real swords and scabbards. The set is simple but effective. Watch for the sheer silliness of Beatrice not so subtly hiding under a box to eavesdrop on Hero and co!