MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
at Shakespeare's Globe
Oranges growing from the Heavens, flowers around the stage, water features between the players and the groundlings. All suggesting sunny Messina. But there's a hint of Sicily's Arab past too, with lovely latticed screens, and fezzes for the Watch.
I wasn't much tickled by Dogberry [Paul Hunter], who seemed to be channelling the never-very-funny Jack Douglas every time he had a malapropism to flag up, though he and his fellows did have some clever slapstick moments. Hero and Claudio were a little underplayed, though Ony Uhiara had some lovely dialogue with her perplexed father [Joseph Marcell].
The chief delight of Jeremy Herrin's pacy, fresh production was the triple chemistry between Eve Best's very modern Beatrice, Charles Edwards's chatty Benedick and the packed yard. They both built a comic complicity with the audience, sharing quips and soliloquies with effortless ease. This is what marks out a great Globe actor – the ability to use the intimacy of the space and chat, informally and seemingly impromptu, with the crowd in the cockpit. Mark Rylance did it first, and memorably, for years. More recently we've seen Roger Allam's Falstaff and Miranda Raison's Anne Boleyn work the same magic, and now Best and Edwards. Dr Who and his Donna will have a hard act to follow ...