Much Ado About Nothing (1992): Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
PrMuch Ado About Nothing (1992)
CAST: Joy Blakeman (Don John); Jacqueline Dankworth (Beatrice); Jacqueline Kington (Hero); Paul Lacoux (Claudio); Guy Scantlebury (Benedick); Jem Wall (Don Pedro); Edward York (Leonato).
This production ran from 9 October - 14 November 1992.
This production is listed in the Everyman Theatre archive catalogue as having been on tour, officially as the Merseyside Community Tour to Knowsley, St. Helen's and the Wirral, local Liverpool areas.
"This is a very mixed production; the dark side of the comedy is powerfully done and Don John, compellingly portrayed by Jay Blakeman, becomes the most memorable character. Which brings us to problem number one - while the evil is spot on, the comedy tends to be strained and the balance of the play is upset. Benedict [sic] and Beatrice were both good, but the play requires them to be outstanding. They never brought the audience close and had to work for their laughs all the way rather than letting the character take over....The set is distractingly bare and open, and tends to carry the eye away from the action instead of concentrating it." ~ Nigel Lawson, "Nothing Much at The Everyman", Gazette, 23 October 1992
"For the most part the performances are strong enough to carry off the director's strange imaginings, with Paul Lacoux a firm Claudio and Jacqueline Kington a determined Hero. But the emphasis, as usual, is on the sub-plot love-hate relationship of Beatrice and Benedick, played here by Jacqueline Dankworth (a spitfire in curiously baggy trousers and 'sensible' shoes) and Guy Scantlebury, personable and lightly comic." ~ Philip Key, "Mind boggles a bit at interpretation of Bard", Liverpool Daily Post, 13 October 1992
"Costumes remain simple, corsets for the women, military for the men - no mistake here of a too-modern look which sounds inventive but rarely enhances a good Shakespearean performance. A stark set is used, as always, to its best advantage, with the characters visibly waiting at the side of a weathered marble stage to make their appearances and costume changes...Joy Blakeman's role reversal performance of Don Pedro's scheming brother Don John is particularly devilish, while Jacqueline Kington makes a fine ass of herself (no offence, it's a direct quote) as Dogberry, displaying again a mastery of comic caricature which Everyman audiences will no doubt remember. And, while on the subject of comedy, Guy Scantlebury and Jacqueline Dankworth make a perfect pair of sparring partners, jabbing and jibing at each other with considerable rapport, as fated lovers Benedick and Beatrice." ~ Dawn Collinson, "Everyman's good and Bard launch", South Liverpool Merseymart, 15 October 1992
"[John Doyle's] love of the classic, ancient and modern, is not to be eradicated by the lack of funding afflicting our theatres. Recently he produced a Brecht with seven actors, now a Shakespeare with eight....He leads one of the best theatres in the country in which to produce epic theatre on a shoestring. At the Everyman you are never far from the action, and when the hat changes are as rapid as this, Benedick doubling with Borachio, for instance, you have to admire the way in which grim necessity is transformed into virtue. The production, like the play, is better in its comedy that [sic] its dramatic subplot. The Don John diversion remains unconvincing in its motivation, and grates against the central comic narrative like a bone with gristle....Much of the acting lacks detail but likeable performances come from Guy Scantlebury as an exhuberant Benedick and Jacqueline Dankworth as a thoroughly modern Beatrice, but even they struggle to give conviction to the minor characters they must perforce portray." ~ Les Smith, Guardian, 21 October 1992
"Director John Doyle has indeed given the eight strong cast a difficult task in doubling as both male and female characters, but they relish the challenge and, once established, the play is plain sailing and a lot of fun in the process....Good guy Don Pedro, played by an energetic Jem Wall, and Jacqueline Kington's Dogberry sequences are other strong performances....Designer Neil Warmington has created a single patio-style square which acts as the main focal point with characters in modern-ish dress coming and going like pieces in a chess game. They wait on the sides and bounce on and off with much enthusiasm as inner and outer turmoils reach stalemate." ~ Peter Grant, Liverpool Echo, 13 October 1992
"Much Ado About Nothing is an atypical Everyman production - putting a new spin on classic plays. Director John Doyle has elected to play up the comedy in the text, and let darker elements speak for themselves. This leads to a number of memorable set pieces, in particular a knockout tennis match. Some sections don't work however. Dogberry is one of 'The Bard's' great comic characters, yet here he's turned into a bit of a rag week tomfoolery" ~ Kevin McCready, Up Town North West, 20 October - 20 November