As this was one of Shakespeare’s plays with which I am not especially familiar, I was anxious that I would have trouble following what was going on. I needn’t have worried. The players performed beautifully and fluently; there was not a single weak link in the cast. The prose was delivered in a conversational style that was easy to follow and luxuriously expressive.
The comic timing of all the performers was impeccable, as was the interpretation of the dialogue. For me, Kieran Donelly was the show-stealer as Benedick, with his superb delivery and excellent timing he was a treat to observe. Ida Persson was wonderfully brassy and amusing as Beatrice, and was perfectly balanced by Zoe Wilgar’s demure and understated portrayal of Hero.
The attractive, clean-cut Trinity College gardens provide the perfect setting for an outdoor show; the bright stage and lively performers contrasting wonderfully with the dull and threatening sky. There were a few pre-emptive hoods up in the audience, however the only few spots of rain that actually occurred fell fittingly during the passionate chapel scene, where Benedick and Beatrice declare their love for one another, and Beatrice wishes Claudio dead for shaming her family.
Refreshments were available in the interval along with blankets for hire, which many audience members, including myself, took advantage of. The temperature was what you’d expect on bonfire night, rather than on a midsummer’s eve, however judging from the amount of laughter throughout the performance, this clearly didn’t stop the audience from enjoying themselves.
The costumes and staging were evidently designed with mild summer weather in mind. At one point, one of the cast members leaps into a fountain in the middle of the stage, and then humorously continues to perform a monologue drenched from head to toe.
The storyline is absorbing and wickedly funny, as well as being full of classic Shakespearisms including: mistaken identities, weddings, villains, sibling rivalry, and a hilarious denouement. And although I wasn’t familiar with this play before today, I now undeniably have a new favourite.
Helen Mills (DI Reviewer), 11/07/12
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