Love and hate at Historic Dockyard

The Royal Navy Theatre Association is performing Much Ado About Nothing at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard from July 18-21.
The Royal Navy Theatre Association is performing Much Ado About Nothing at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard from July 18-21.
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One of Shakespeare’s most iconic comedies will take to a different stage in a completely new light next week, as it’s performed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Running from Wednesday to Saturday, the Royal Navy Theatre Association is performing Much Ado About Nothing as part of the Dockyard At Dusk season.

Part of the Royal Shakespeare Company Open Stages, the play will be performed close to HMS Victory.

The production sees all three of the Portsmouth based theatre clubs joining together, including HMS Collingwood’s Random Salad Company, HMS Excellent’s Admiral’s Players and the HMS Sultan Theatre Club.

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy about two sets of lovers, drawn from a group of young men returning home from war.

Benedick and Beatrice proclaim their dislike of love, marriage and each other, while Claudio and Hero are sweet young people who are rendered practically speechless by their love for each another.

Bringing the setting of the production into the 21st century, the men will be a troop of Royal Marines returning from Afghanistan.

Rear Admiral David Steel, President of the Royal Navy Theatre Association, says: ‘I’m delighted the RNTA are taking on such an ambitious project. I have seen a number of the clubs’ individual productions over the past year and there are some talented actors involved.

‘The fact that three establishments are collaborating to put this production on meets our aims perfectly to enhance the confidence, team-working and leadership qualities of service and civilian personnel through the medium of drama and to foster good relationships between those from different backgrounds relating to the Service.’

Ian Wainwright, producer of RSC Open Stages, says: ‘Everyone at the RSC is really excited about the production being staged by the Royal Navy. A lot of us had no idea that the Royal Navy even had an amateur theatre group.’

Other productions in the Dockyard at Dusk season include Shakespeare’s Macbeth, presented by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, on August 23 and the The Royal Marines Association Concert Band will perform on August 25.

There will be food concessions and a bar. Folding seats are provided but not allocated and visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic.

There is free parking in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard car park (follow brown tourist signs) from 6pm until 11pm.

n Tickets cost £10 to £12 from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on (0844) 880 5406 or go to historicdockyard.oc.uk/tickets/dockyardatdusk.