Much Ado About Nothing at Flight Path Theatre

The Funniest Turbulence You Could Ask For

Written by Alexa Stevens

Photography by Clare Hawley

Electric, is the word I best think captures the atmosphere before Attractive, Not Model Attractive’s production of Much Ado About Nothing is due to start. It’s cosy too, in the chosen venue of Flight Path Theatre in Marrickville; theatre cat and good conversation cutting a pleasant warmth against the chill outside. It is a great choice; the intimacy of the show lends itself well to the smaller stage, and the audience is so close to the action, it’s a delight when we are (frequently!) involved.

I have to admit Much Ado is my favourite Shakespeare, and this production is one of my favourite adaptations. It was unapologetic with its emotions and humour, spinning out a tale of love and grief in equal measure. The players were amazing; giving fresh and dynamic interpretations of their roles. There is a reason we keep seeing Shakespeare and this show is why, as director Madeleine Withington and her stunning cast prove. 

Simply hilarious, the physicality of the players provided fantastic slapstick; rather literally sliding across the floor or into the stands (best line of the night when Hal Jones’ Beatrice, hiding from her sister, sat in an empty chair and said “I will recommend this show to my friends”!). Indeed, the clever physical parallels between Beatrice and Benedick’s performances were fantastic. I also have to mention the fantastic job of the players for the supporting cast; usually in contemporary Shakespeare plays these conversations are slightly awkward, or in some cases, cut completely. However, Lib Campbell’s Dogberry, and Jack Elliot Mitchell’s Friar, were, simply put, fucking wild, and brought great energy to the stage. It was an old Comedy, made new for us.

Indeed, even the setting was new; I assume it was set in the 90s, for the leather pants, oversized suits and sweater vests I saw. Plus, making “The Lordes” into an N*SYNC-esque boyband (complete with choreography and song!) was a glorious choice. Our merry villains really leaned into this theme; Spinks’ Don Jon had entry music and the vibe of a desperate soloist stuck in a band, while I believe it was Barraclough’s Conrade that rocked up to the party in an inflatable T Rex costume, of all things. That’s another thing I loved about this production; everyone on stage is doing something, and usually, something funny. From Tristan Black’s Don Pedro chatting away to Idam Sondhi’s Claudio downing shots in the corner, there was always something going on, which fits perfectly with this crazy play. Perhaps the only thing that didn’t work was the amount of profanity; it certainly works the first time or two, in delightful contrast to Shakespeare’s English, but in the end, I think they slightly overdid it.

Nonetheless, Much Ado is not all laughs; the slander and ‘death’ of Hero, rather than played off for laughs, were treated with stunning sincerity. Suzann James’ Leonata shone in her bitter grief, and Jones’ Beatrice delivered a cracking and raw performance of the “That I were a man” monologue. Steve Corner’s Benedick was often loud and hilarious with his sly remarks and audience interactions; it was shocking then, to see him subdued in his challenge to Don Pedro, and a testament to Corner’s acting for the subtlety.

Overall, the play was a grand spectacle; witty, emotional and engaging. I left the theatre with my face hurting from smiling so much; what more could you ask for? 

Blitz Editor

Anandi Ganguly

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