Much Ado About Nothing

Play by William Shakespeare. Two young lovers Claudio and Hero are to be married imminently but the devious scheming of a resentful Prince looks set to thwart the nuptials. Meanwhile, marriage seems inconceivable for reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick whose endless witty sparring threatens to keep them apart forever. Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great plays and reminds us all of the failings and triumphs of the human condition in our never ending search for perfect love.

2006 RSC Much Ado About Nothing with Joseph Millson and Tamsin Greig

2009 Open Air Theatre with Sean Campion and Samantha Spiro

2011 Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate

2012 RSC Much Ado About Nothing with Paul Bhattacharjee and Meera Syal

2013 Much Ado About Nothing with James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave

2016 RSC Much Ado About Nothing 2016

RSC's Much Ado About Nothing with Joseph Millson and Tamsin Greig 2006

Previewed 7 December 2006, Opened 13 December 2006, Closed 6 January 2007 at the Novello Theatre

The RSC present Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in London featuring Tamsin Greig and Joseph Millson and directed by Marianne Elliott for a strictly limited Christmas season.

A lively showdown between the sexes unfolds in Shakespeare's bittersweet comedy. Beatrice, an independent and forthright, and Benedict, a self-confessed 'woman-hater', pass thier time constantly goading and scorning each other. When they are thrown together to defend a friend's and family's honour, their true feelings begin to emerge.

The cast features Tamsin Greig as 'Beatrice' and Joseph Millson as 'Benedict' along with Jamie Ballard, Steven Beard, Bette Bourne, Amy Brown, Simon Bubb, Morven Christie, Christopher Davies, Nicholas Day, Curtis Flowers, Shane Frater, John Heffernan, Geoffrey Lumb, Sam O'Mahony-Adams, Adam Rayner, Patrick Robinson, Yvette Rochester-Duncan, Parick Romer, Leon Tanner, Jonny Weir and Caroline Wildi. Directed by Marianne Elliott with designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Neil Austin, music by Olly Fox, sound by Christopher Shutt and Ian Dickinson, choreography/movement by Susannah Broughton and Sarah Gorman and fights by Alison de Burgh. This production comes into London's West End following a season at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in May 2006.

"While not going so far as a new score, this production aches to be a musical and if not that then a knockabout farce. Set in Cuba in 1953, the update works very well as something more intelligent and appropriate than mere gimmickry... This production is also greatly helped by Tamsin Greig's take on Beatrice. Like her director, she's in a hugely impressive RSC debut, and she plays Beatrice as a Cuban Eva Peron, formidable in her determination to have her own way whatever the cost to those around her, not least the abashed Benedick, quirkily played by Joseph Millson. Elliott's determination never to bore her audience leads to some eccentric moments but she accurately assesses that a play which depends on gossip and overheard plotting has to keep moving at a considerable pace... and this production impressively captures its many conflicting moods." The Daily Express

"Welcome to the most sultry Much Ado you will ever see and to Cuba 1953... Beatrice is played with gorgeous aplomb by Tamsin Greig.... She taunts Benedick in a worldly, unhurried smouldering way but there is (all that defensive talk about marriage) a vulnerability there too - as is usually the case with people who protest too much. Joseph Millson's Benedick protests with the best of them. He is deliciously over-emphatic. He has a dirty laugh and a high opinion of himself. He almost sobs when his ego is knocked - hilarious to behold... There are excellent performances elsewhere too. Adam Rayner as Claudio is impressively versatile... Betty Bourne's Dogberry is an intriguing one-off... And Jonny Weir is superb as a torrid, dark-voiced Count John." The Observer

RSC's Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Novello Theatre previewed from 7 December 2006, opened on 13 December 2006 and closed on 6 January 2007.

Much Ado About Nothing with Sean Campion and Samantha Spiro in 2011

Previewed 25 May 2009, Opened 1 June 2009, Closed 27 June 2009 at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park

The cast featured Sean Campion as 'Benedick', and Samantha Spiro as 'Beatrice', with Annalisa Rossi as 'Margaret', Anneika Rose as 'Hero', Anthony O'Donnell as 'Dogberry', Ben Mansfield as 'Claudio', Chris Jared as 'Conrade', David Whitworth as 'Friar Francis', Eke Chukwu as 'Hugh Oatcake'/'Messenger', Harry Myers as 'First Watchman'/'Sexton', Kate Tydman as 'Rose', Mark McGee as 'George Seacoal', Nigel Cooke as 'Leonato', Peter Bramhill as 'Borachio', Sarah Ingram as 'Ursula', Silas Carson as 'Don Pedro', Simon Gregor as 'Verges', Tim Howar as 'Balthasar', and Tim Steed as 'Don John'.

Directed by Timothy Sheader, with choreography by Ann Yee, sets by Philip Witcomb, costumes by Deirdre Clancy, music by David Shrubsole, lighting by Simon Mills, and sound by Fergus O'Hare.

Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate 2011

Previewed 16 May 2011, Opened 1 June 2011, Closed 3 September 2011 at the Wyndham's Theatre

Josie Rourke directs Caterine Tate and David Tennant in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in London for a strictly limited season.

The cast for Much Ado About Nothing features David Tennant as 'Benedick' and Catherine Tate as 'Beatrice' with Tom Bateman as 'Hero', Sarah Macrae as 'Claudio' and Elliot Levey as 'Don John'. The production is directed by Josie Rourke with movement by Georgina Lamb, designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Peter Mumford, music by Michael Bruce and sound by Emma Laxton.

"This hilarious adaptation is set on the Costa del Sol in the 80s - it's the Bard styled by Wham!. Benedick arrives home from war and he and Beatrice soon become frontline troops in the battlefield of love. Tate may be the comedian but Tennant gives a comic tour de force as the reluctant lovers trade vicious barbs like boxers at a weigh-in. He is a revelation - and it's worth the admission fee just to see him in a miniskirt and boob tube. There is much to love here and nothing to fault." The Daily Mirror

"As Doctor Who and Donna, they travelled the universe together. Now a revival of Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing has David Tennant and Catherine Tate perfectly paired as Benedick and Beatrice, the skirmishing couple swearing to stay single. Josie Rourke's sparky, spirited production relocates the play to the bougainvillea-fringed terraces of Gibraltar during the ra-ra-skirted Eighties... Tennant couldn't be better, playing Benedick as a sexy Scot in shades, making a wonderfully noisy entrance in a golf buggy loaded with duty-free bags, hooting merrily... Tate, perhaps best known for the catchphrase 'Am I bovvered?', is a tough estuary Beatrice who is apparently bulletproof. A chink of vulnerability wouldn't go amiss. Tennant glides silkily through this play; Tate stomps sulkily. Still, the production is fast and funny, with lots going on, often wholly gratuitous but nevertheless delightful slapstick spectacularly well executed... Rourke's approach is neither subtle nor revelatory, but it is always loud and clear, makes perfect dramatic sense and the timing throughout is flawless... Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended." The Mail on Sunday

"Wyndham's Much Ado, under its director, Josie Rourke, is slicker and more original, with two excellent leads and some fine young talent supporting them. There was little doubt that it would be a perfect role for David Tennant, clever and lithe and just slightly neurotic - but would Catherine Tate be up to doing Beatrice? In fact, from the very start, Tate is utterly convincing, excelling as she does at sarky scorn. She's a brittle tomboy in ripped jeans or dungarees and a swagger, sharptongued but socially gauche, with a soft heart, frequently betraying her own longing for love... The setting is Gibraltar in the 1980s, for reasons that seemed insufficient... One neat trick was the 1980s-pastiche dance songs, though. If you listen hard, you will realise that the lyrics are those of the songs from the play. Otherwise, it's something of a gaudy distraction." The Sunday Times

Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 16 May 2011, opened on 1 June 2011 and closed on 3 September 2011.

RSC's Much Ado About Nothing with Paul Bhattacharjee and Meera Syal 2012

Previewed 22 September 2012, Opened 27 September 2012, Closed 27 October 2012 at the Noel Coward Theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company presents an Indian themed version William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing in London featuring Meera Syal and Paul Bhattacharjee.

This vibrant and colourful production transposes Shakespeare's vivacious and sometimes unsettling comedy of love and deceit to an Indian setting.

The cast includes Meera Syal as 'Beatrice' and Paul Bhattacharjee as 'Benedick' along with Sagar Arya, Raj Bajaj, Rudi Dharmalingam, Neil D'Souza, Kulvinder Ghir, Shiv Grewal, Ernest Ignatius, Muzz Khan, Aysha Kala, Amara Karan, Darren Kuppan, Robert Mountford, Simon Nagra, Chetna Pandya, Bharti Patel, Gary Pillai, Madhav Sharma, Peter Singh and Anjana Vasan. Directed by Iqbal Khan with choreography by Struan Leslie, set designs by Tom Piper, costume designs by Himani Dehlvi, lighting by Ciaran Bagnall, music by Niraj Chag, sound by Andrew Franks and fights by Kev McCurdy. This production comes into London's West End following a season at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in August 2012 and immediately follows the RSC's production of Julius Caesar at the Noel Coward Theatre from 8 August to 15 September 2012. Meera Syal's London theatre credits include Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine (Trafalgar Studios 2010) and the musical Bombay Dreams (Apollo Victoria Theatre 2002). Paul Bhattacharjee along with Neil D'Souza, Shiv Grewal, Kulvinder Ghir and Paul Bhattacharjee all appeared in the Tara Art's Indian themed version of Twelfth Night (Noel Coward Theatre 2004). Iqbal Khan's redent West End directing credits include Arthur Miller's Broken Glass starring Antony Sher and Tara Fitzgerald (Vaudeville Theatre 2011).

"Relocation, relocation, relocation. In an ongoing bid to globalise Shakespeare the RSC continues to find new places to set his plays. Following Julius Caesar set in an African republic we now have his most sophisticated comedy set in downtown Delhi. If anything Iqbal Khan's production is even more successful and the wholesale transfer of the play from Messina to modern Delhi works beautifully. The heat and dust, colour and noise of India are apparent on a stage dominated by a huge tree, the branches of which are festooned with snake-like coils of rope and cables in the courtyard of Leonato's palace... With its embedded themes of family honour and marital matchmaking the play sits naturally in its Indian setting and Khan's production delivers the goods with style, substance and wit." The Daily Express

"Iqbal Khan's production has been given an Indian makeover. There are lots of colourful costumes, hip-wriggling Bollywood-style dance routines and the gimmicky casting of Meera Syal in the pivotal role of Beatrice. For good measure, members of the audience are dragged up on to the stage to attend the wedding of Hero, who is played by the lovely Amara Karan, which makes it seem like an American game show. Even less appealingly, Kulvinder Ghir's Borachio gets to urinate all over the stage. I accept, of course, that Shakespeare belongs to the whole world, but Khan ought to have appreciated that, with a playwright such as this, too much distraction from the words turns audiences off rather than on." The Sunday Telegraph

"The two battling but besotted lovers at the heart of the story are Meera Syal as Beatrice and Paul Bhattacharjee as Benedick. We've seen them played as middle-aged lovers before, but here the sense of encroaching grey hairs, expanding girths and tired old age is overwhelming. Syal is only rarely as sparkling and feisty as she needs to be, more often merely world-weary, and Bhattacharjee's Benedick is too old and sensible to convey the happily ridiculous, preening-young-man vanity that is needed from Benedick in love. He comes over more as weedy and overwrought... On a more positive note, there's that terrific music and dancing. The costumes are lovely, too, especially the saris. Towards the end, dramatic power picks up with the wedding scene, and Madhav Sharma is on good form as Hero's indignant father, Leonato. Amara Karan, as Hero, is superb, with only a few lines to speak, yet a magnetic stage presence throughout... A very mixed Much Ado." The Sunday Times

The production is at its best when it makes inventive use of the Indian setting, as in Hero's aborted wedding: a spectacularly lavish affair taking place on an inset pavilion designed by Tom Piper and accompanied by stunning music from Niraj Chag; Hero's humiliation is made even worse by the way Sagar Arya's arrogant Claudio denounces her through a hand-held microphone. Meera Syal and Paul Bhattacharjee as Beatrice and Benedick also overcome the production's obstacles to suggest a growing mutual tenderness... There is good work from Gary Pillai as an implicitly gay Don John, and from Amara Karan as an unusually feisty Hero; and, as so often, Shakespeare's humane values overcome directorial excess." The Guardian

The director Iqbal Khan says about his production that "I initially resisted the idea of doing something exotic. But the more seriously I thought about the themes of the play - chastity and pure blood lines, the rituals of courtship, the arrangements of marriage - I realised all of those things are incredibly vital in India." Meera Syal says: "Making my professional Shakespeare debut at the RSC is scary. You're surrounded by people who know everything about him, but on the other hand, where better to do it? The role of Beatrice has changed profoundly over time, along with society's perception of women. She was written as having the wit of a man, but critics hated her. Now she's modern, the staple romcom heroine."

Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 22 September 2012, opened on 27 September 2012 and closed on 27 October 2012.

Much Ado About Nothing with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones 2013

Previewed 7 September 2013, Opened 19 September 2013, Closed 30 November 2013 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones and directed by Mark Rylance.

The cast for this production of Much Ado About Nothing in London stars Vanessa Redgrave as 'Beatrice' and James Earl Jones as 'Benedick'. The play is directed by Mark Rylance. This is the first time that either Vanessa Redgrave or James Earl Jones have played these Shakespeare roles and marks the second time they have performed together on stage following their critically acclaimed performances in Driving Miss Daisy (Wyndham's Theatre October 2011).

"That this is an event of note, don't doubt... The director is our own maverick genius, the shape-shifting divine impertinence that is Mark Rylance. He saw them in Driving Miss Daisy, with Jones playing the chauffeur and Redgrave as the cross old bat. A connoisseur of stage chemistry, he promptly cast them as Shakespeare's stroppiest lovers, twice the normal maximum age. The result is one of the oddest evenings I have ever spent... Trundling around like a great crumpled khaki bear, the old boy has a magical twinkle, a hilarious physical expressiveness and drop-dead comic timing with the short sharp lines. Watching him is like spreading your cold hands to a crackling fire. As for Redgrave, she deploys all the magnificent indiscipline we love her for, sapphire eyes blazing, wild grey hair flying, military Jodphurs accessorised with a gipsy shawl and false moustache for the ball scene." The Times

"Much Ado About Nothing is the Shakespeare that launched a thousand romcoms. The acid-tipped banter between Beatrice and Benedick has provided the template for movies ranging from Adam's Rib (starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) to When Harry Met Sally. So when Vanessa Redgrave swaggers on stage in hunting garb, pointing a gun and rasping out lines like Hepburn, it seems to promise rapid-fire comedy. Unfortunately, what ensues travels at the speed not of a bullet but of a slightly the worse-for-wear vintage car jolting over every bump in the text. You're left with little but relief that it gets to its destination... Some minor roles shine - Peter Wight's ad-libbing night constable Dogberry is a verbally challenged delight, and Melody Grove's Margaret steals every scene in which she features. But in most other aspects, this much-anticipated production sadly lives up to the play's comicallv dismissive title." The Metro

"Admirers of the chemistry between Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy can scarcely have dreamt that the next time they saw this pair on stage it would be as Beatrice and Benedick, the sparring, reluctant lovers in Much Ado About Nothing. But Mark Rylance was so impressed by their affinity that he has built this production around them. It's a bold experiment that was always destined, one felt, to be either a transcendent vindication of age-blind casting or a misconceived mess. I regret to say that it veers very much to the latter end of the spectrum... It's painful to see two such great actors in a context that does them no favours. They generate good will because of who they are, but the production which has been tailored as a vehicle for them can't, alas, be pronounced roadworthy." The Independent

"It's hard to believe that Mark Rylance did this. As an actor, he is one of the most subtle interpreters of Shakespeare of the past 50 years, perhaps ever. Yet his production of Much Ado About Nothing is appalling. It looks hideous. It's paced sluggishly. Worst of all, it is for much of the time spoken so indistinctly that it might as well be taking place underwater... The action has been transplanted to an American air base in England in 1944, with GI uniforms and jiving and a bluesy Sigh No More played on a harmonica. Yet it has no swing at all. Ultz's design is a major impediment. An enormous brown arch straddles the stage. It's ugly; it's difficult for actors to move around it; it dwarfs the action." The Observer

Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewedd from 7 September 2013, opened on 19 September 2013 and closed on 30 November 2013.

RSC Much Ado About Nothing

Previewed 9 December 2016, Opened 17 December 2016, Closed 18 March 2017 at the Haymarket Theatre Royal

The Royal Shakespeare Company present's a major revival of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in London, playing in repertory with Love's Labour's Lost, for a strictly limited season

Autumn 1918. A group of soldiers return from the trenches. The world-weary Benedick and his friend Claudio find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero. As memories of conflict give way to a life of parties and masked balls, Claudio and Hero fall madly, deeply in love, while Benedick and Beatrice reignite their own altogether more combative courtship.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, with choreography by Jenny Arnold, designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Oliver Fenwick, music by Nigel Hess and sound by Jeremy Dunn.

This production was originally seen at the RSC's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (previewed from 3 October 2014, opened on 15 October 2014 and closed on 14 March 2015, played in repertory), it will transfer here to the Haymarket Theatre following a run at the Chichester Festival Theatre (from 24 September to 29 October 2016). Christopher Luscombe's London credits include Alan Bennett's The Madness of George III at the Apollo Theatre in 2012 and JB Priestley's comedy When We Are Married at the Garrick Theatre in 2010.

When this production opened here at London's Haymarket Theatre in December 2016, Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "the central relationship between Beatrice and Benedick is satisfyingly layered... This is a Much Ado that proves both charming and wise. With its finely measured mix of farce, verbal dexterity and emotional tension, itís a seasonal treat." Dominic Maxwell in the The Times explained that "Christopher Luscombe pushes the comedy hard, taking us into some sublime slapstick, yet can ping us back to heartache and horror, partly because of the postwar setting, partly because of the heavy use of Nigel Hessís bewitching music. Mainly, though, because of first-rate playing... If a double dose of Shakespeare doesnít sound like a great seasonal treat, trust me, this pair remind you that genius neednít be hard work. What joy." Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised "Christopher Luscombe's scintillating production... is not only the best production of this play but one of the best productions of any Shakespeare comedy I've seen." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times thought that "some of the slapstick is laboured, but overall this double bill is funny, wise and touching." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail called "this is a delicious show, well-suited to the opulence of the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The setting, the acting, and most of all the music, are spot on."

When this production opened at the RSC's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in October 2014, Sam Marlowe in The Times highlighted that "it's easy to fall for this ravishing pair of love stories, but be warned: they're almost as likely to make you sob as swoon. This is romance at its most bittersweet and exquisitely elegant and while Christopher Luscombe's RSC productions are also sparklingly funny and giddily blissful the overall tone is reflective and often intensely moving." Ian Shuttleworth in The Financial Times praised it as being "one of the most successful speculative yokings-together of Shakespearean plays that I have ever seen." Patrick Marmion for the Daily Mail said that it's "amazing to think the RSC has never twinned these plays before: they make a very happy couple... The really clever thing is the way Luscombe's casting creates continuity between characters across the plays... Catch one or the other. Or both if you can." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard explained that "Love's Labour's Won, as Much Ado About Nothing might very well have been known in Shakespeare's lifetime, takes up the action at a Christmas country house party in December 1918 when the men return from the fighting... disappointingly, the production is slightly off the beat right from the start, when too little joy is forthcoming at the soldiers' return to a house that has been converted, Downton Abbey-style, into a hospital... Even so, this is a classy, thoughtfully-conceived double helping of Shakespeare." Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph hailed the production as being "the most blissfully entertaining and emotionally involving RSC offering I've seen in ages. Parallels between the two works - the sparring wit, the sex-war skirmishes, the shift from showy linguistic evasion to heartfelt earnestness - become persuasively apparent. Everything is in clear focus and the ensemble appears galvanised by the workload." Michael Billington in The Guardian commented how "parallels between the plays abound... but it is in Much Ado that Christopher Luscombe's decorative directing style works to best advantage... Much Ado is an almost total joy... If love is thwarted in the first play, it is triumphantly fulfilled in the second, and Nigel Hess has come up with a recurring song, suggesting a marriage of Coward and Cole Porter, that you'll be humming for days afterwards."

RSC Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 9 December 2016, opened on 17 December 2016 and closed on 18 March 2017.