27 September 2012

Much Ado About Nothing - Royal Shakespeare Company 26th September 2012 Social Media Call

Much ado has been made about the new adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Mainly talk has been about the fact that it is sent in modern day Delhi and it is the first all-Asian cast do perform such a play at the RSC. And while all that is true, the fact is Shakespeare originally set the play in Sicily and this adaptation isn't that far removed from how Shakespeare probably originally intended it; its a story that you can very much see play out in modern day India without suspending your disbelief.

Benedick after "overhearing" that Beatrice has feelings for him
Wednesday afternoon (26th Sept 2012) found me at the Noel Coward theatre in London for the RSCs social media call for their production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. A bunch of theatre reviewers, bloggers, twitter-ers and other social media folk were shown a scene from the play followed by a Q&A with those members of the cast.

Members of the cast and the Director Iqbal Khan during the social media call Q&A

After watching a scene from the play (Act 2 scene 3) i asked the cast "If there is one thing you would like the audience to take away from this production, what would it be?". I received mixed answers.

Madhav Sharma (Leonato) said "Happiness and joy, that there is love in this world" and Shiv Grewal (Don Pedro) said "family is important". My favourite response however was from the Director Iqbal Khan
who candidly said "Its a fucking good play...and its a much better play than people give it credit for, it think it might be his [Shakespeare's] best comedy..."

And for whatever my 2 cents are worth, I'm going to reiterate what Iqbal Khan said...it is a fucking good play...seeing it that Wednesday night (thanks to the RSCs complimentary ticket) only served to prove that. Walking in to the auditorium that evening....i was met with a raised curtain and a recreated scene of daily life in in a bustling Delhi neighbourhood, the set was designed around a courtyard space, with curved doorways, balconies, an old tree wrapped with wires and a light streetlight protruding from the center as though it had grown there complete with a simple rope swing that had a wood seat. People were milling around on stage as though this was their daily life, a maid plaited the hair of a younger maid, a young man was fixing an upright fan, young girls returned home from a shopping trip and stopped for a chat. And that was all before the play even began.

Benedick eavesdropping on Leonato and Don Pedro
During the play itself, Paul Bhattacharjee who plays Benedick and Meera Syal who plays Beatrice were simply fantastical in their witty repartee and awkward affection. The entire cast did a fantastic job in transporting me to modern day Delhi and telling a great story. There were even a few scenes that were quite moving, one in particular gave me chills.

Don Pedro takes advantage of Benedick disguised as a servant

I've already recommended this play to my flatmates and my friend at work is already booking her tickets. Give it a go, its one of the few RSC plays for which you don't have to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon to see and will be gracing the Noel Coward Theatre stage till 27th October 2012.

Leonato and the maid

Benedick and the set for Much Ado About Nothing

If you do go see it or have seen it already, let me know what you think.

Play Synopsys
Cast and Crew
Production Photos
Audience feedback
Director Q&A


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