Be a clown: Much Ado About Nothing @anticdispo

Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is set in rural France in the aftermath of World War II in this lively interpretation by Antic Disposition. The war may be over but the battle of the sexes and battle over rivalries is just about to begin. It’s currently playing at Grays Inn Hall. 

Love gone wrong, mistaken identity and a infidelity make up this piece. And there’s not a moment to lose in this adaption that moves through the story at a fast pace with music, mirth and merriment. And with a nod to the physical comedy of Jacques Tati, there’s much clowning about too in this company consisting of English and French actors.

As the unlikely lovers, Nicholas Osmond as Benedick and Chiraz Aïch as Béatrice strike the right balance with the physical and verbal humour of the piece. Alfie Webster makes the most of the brief yet dark character Don John who sets in motion much of the drama. 

Alexander Varey and Florian’s Andersen are also a delight as the intense young lovers, Claudio and Hero.

The piece has been touring the UK and France before arriving in London. Gray’s Inn was where Shakespeare himself performed.  But the stuffy atmosphere of the place seems to stifle the mood and mirth at times. And the sightlines aren’t so great either with its very long traverse staging. You get a sense that to  appreciate this production, it would be better to see it in an outdoor setting. Too bad it isn’t staged that way for its London stopover. Even if it meant competing with noise, bad weather and nasty pigeons. 

Still it’s evocative, classy and funny enough to be a delightful evening...   Directed by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, Much Ado About Nothing is at Gray’s Inn Hall until 1 September. 


Photos by Scott Rylander

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