Part two of the Shakespearean double-bill at the Festival Theatre is this comedy from his most creative period.
It is possible it was written as a companion piece to Love’s Labour’s Lost. There is evidence of a lost Shakespeare play – Love’s Labour’s Won – and here Much Ado is very much sold as being this mystery play.
It is both darker and funnier than its companion and very much more sophisticated.
The pivotal roles of Beatrice and Benedick are taken by Lisa Dillon and Edward Bennett – and mighty performances they are, too. The word-play sparkles and the love-hate relationship is beautifully realised and convincing.
And, as in LLL, the comic roles - here Dogberry (Nick Haverson) and Verges (Roderick Smith) with their dismal group of constables – pretty much steal it. The scene in the constables’ den as they try to interrogate a couple of reprobates is superbly conceived, directed and realised by the cast. And that clever direction – by Christopher Luscombe - takes the end of this riotous scene and suddenly twists a knife in your heart.
In both plays the costumes are superb – particularly for the women – and the multi-purpose set is rich in detail.
Catch it if you can.
Until October 29.