Much Ado About Nothing at St Margaret’s Arts, Titchfield

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I swear there were times when I could have nipped out for a restorative G & T – and returned to find I had missed nothing of consequence in Titchfield Festival Theatre’s latest production.

Plod, plod, plod went Shakespeare’s dark comedy – partly because some actors were not in command of their lines on the first night, but mainly because director Frank Veresi seems determined that every word should be savoured.

Even the formidably funny Kevin Fraser as clownish constable Dogberry is caught up in the go-slow. PC Plod indeed.

But the production gives the play plenty of light and just about enough shadow. Some of the director’s other ideas are good, notably the use of singing, and some of the performances are of high quality.

Amy Mainwaring’s Beatrice is difficult to resist, with her toss of her russet-gold mane as eloquent as her sighs and smiles. And Rick Reid, as Benedick, is not far behind as a gruff-voiced Benedick for whom the thought of love – let alone love for Beatrice – seems totally alien.

Eleanor Thomas, too, gives a nice performance as the wrongly-accused Hero.

TFT’s new home is pleasing, with adequate facilities for audiences and apparently for the company.

Much Ado runs until July 23 and will be followed by another Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, from August 10-20.

MIKE ALLEN