A corner of the King’s Gardens was transformed into Shakespeare’s Sicily last week when the TNT Theatre Company put on their version of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, complete with stuffed cats, fake swords and an impromptu guest performance from a passing homeless man.
Though Shakespeare in the 21st century is favoured by the intelligentsia, in Elizabethan times he was a man of the people, when early titles like ‘Titus Andronicus’ were received in the same way as Zack Snyder’s ‘300’. Last week’s version of Much Ado About Nothing, a comedy in which indeed not much happens, might be likened to an episode of ‘Two and a Half Men’ – broadly entertaining, if only for the tongue-in-cheek sex puns and slapstick fighting.
The opening scene went off like a rocket with banging metal pails, quick jokes and a hilarious David Chittenden as the evil mastermind Don Juan, complete with an evil kitty straight from Bloefeld’s lap. However, although the second act garnered a few successful jokes, including an inspired updated version of the ‘truth overheard’ theme featuring tin-can telephones, the mood took a turn for the serious, and sadly, for the trite.
The programme notes referred to the scene in which Beatrice pleads for Benedick to kill Claudio as her “greatest moment”, and Louise Lee’s performance recalled the desperate angst of either a Juliet or an Ophelia. But this was not a tragedy, and the dramatics felt forced and overdone in a play in which Benedick and Claudio end up best buddies, square dancing with their gals after a merry double wedding.
Although the vision was a little too high-brow in places, the comedy was done with excellence – helping to bring Shakespeare out of the classroom and into the public.
‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was performed on Thursday August 30 in Kongens Have by the TNT Theatre Company, which is returning on September 20 to perform ‘Brave New World’.