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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Much Ado About Nothing Review | The Lowry | Manchester

Shakespeare’s timeless and traditional story of romantic love has been revitalised by Northern Broadsides vivid production. With the duplicated and adored classical comedy reimagining at the end of World War II, the returning men are pitted against a strong cast of independent women who playfully protest their lovers’ advances or simply demand more from their men.

Blending Shakespeare’s fast-paced and fanciful language with a spirited cast, Northern Broadsides production, directed by Conrad Nelson, brings audiences a faithful retelling infused with the witty retorts and double-crossings that power the narrative. The simple and effective vintage set dressed in bunting, plastered with WW2 posters and donning a printed sheeted backdrop, allows audiences to focus on the flowery language that is fused with an original twist of live music. Adding to the Shakespearian model, the musical accompaniments performed by the actors’ slot naturally into the parties and humour that plays out between the masked balls and wedding ceremonies of the swing period.

Playing with the striking Shakespearian language in the intimate Lowry Quays theatre, the productions easy-going atmosphere produces fresh moments that add to the theatrics of the show. Melding a minute of audience participation, slapstick and enjoyable one-liners that draws audiences into the stories soap opera treachery, the comedy surges with energy due to its fantastic cast.

The story follows two pairs of two lovers, the love haters Benedick (played by Robin Simpson) and Beatrice (Isobel Middleton) whose quick-tongued banter is reflected against the love sick Claudio (Linford Johnson) and Hero’s (Sarah Kameerla Impey) happy union. As the story explores a prophetic presence of love at first sight, the charismatic Middleton and Simpson shine the audience with their endless retorts about their disdain for love. The salacious emotional appeals of its male characters are a joy to witness, continuing Shakespeare’s 1612 original narrative with a moving and charming production. Northern Broadsides’ Much Ado About Nothing offers audiences a relaxed revival for love-weary audiences. Its forceful cast creates a compelling production, bringing a renewal of the classic that is hard not to love.

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