Tuesday, 17 December 2013

'Much Ado About Nothing' The Old Vic *

The closed Old Vic production of William Shakespeare's classic play 'Much Ado About Nothing' has to be most disappointing version of the text I have ever seen. The show is about two people Beatrice and Benedick who at first seem to actually detest one another but through the persuasion of the other characters there seems to be a love story exuding through the narrative. I became confused by the casting of vastly older actors Vanessa Redgrave and Charles Earl Jones as the roles are generally performed by younger actors and for me this concept did not work as they did not seem to grasp the youthful characteristics and try and present them into the older versions of the characters. To go into comprehensive detail Vanessa Redgrave as Beatrice was surprisingly unattractive in all her performance aspects such as movement and voice due to the fact that she seems to instead of Beatrice being a friend to the other girls it almost fells more like a grandmother figure. This left me quite appalled as Redgrave is regarded as such a phenomenal theatre actor that this made me question as to why she wanted to appear in this play and quite obviously an integral part of the company. In addition, Charles Earl Jones' portrayal of the male lead Benedick was rather lacklustre for ones liking as the character does not seem to present the naivety of the young man's quest for love but since Earl Jones is significantly older for these aspects to become apparent that they became disregarded and this annoyed me most strongly. Make me wonder why they cast these two actors in these roles? Maybe to sell a seat or two but the auditorium was quite empty that night of performance. The direction by Mark Rylance I found to be critically truthful, not a wonderful piece to witness as the concept of staging it in a 1940's military atmosphere seems very uncreative due to the recent National Theatre production of 'Othello' where the idea of presenting it in a heavily focused war zone environment seems that repetition is becoming the latter and I think this should not be the case at all. I disliked the simplicity behind the characters movements and the absence of many of Shakespeare's techniques was very noticeable. I thought that this did not feel like a Shakespeare play whatsoever and found it particularly woeful from beginning to end.  Needless to say that I found it as enjoyable as seeing the horrendous musical theatre production of 'The Light Princess'.        

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