I personally thought that this production was very good. I was desperate to see it, because i loved cathrine tate and david tennant as actors and because shakespeare is my favourite author. The production had some positive as well as some negative points.
First of all, I want to say that David Tennants Benedick was superb. Benedick is egoistic, charming, funny, slightly self concious, determined, witty and always thinks that he is the smartest person in the room. David Tennant pulled it of perfectly, and I loved the paint scene and the sonnet scene. With another actor, the paint scene might have seemed to over the top, but David managed it brilliantly. I give him five stars.
Cathrine Tate did pretty well, seeing that she is more of a comedian than a stage actress. Shakespeare is hard, especially when it's prose. This Beatrice was funny and witty, but i always thought her to have more emotional depth-something Cathrine didn't quite manage to capture. i think she used far too many comic elements, especially in the overhearing scene, which was over the top. Also, her use of voices dissapointed me a little, especially in the first half. I think that in the second half Cathrine Tate did brilliantly, I loved her in those scenes. The comic element was a lot more subtle there, and that's when the character's emotion finally came through. Shame she didn't start that way.
Elliot Levey did absoulutely brilliantly as Don john, instead of being so extremely villanous that it just got boring, he was self conscious and insecure. He gave the impression of being a sneaky little rat, unwanted but lonely. I think that he actually managed to make the audience sympathise with him.
Tom bateman was a superb Claudio seeing that he is a new comer. Sarah Macrae was also very good, but could have had some more emotion.
I loved Adam James as Don pedro, he was friendly, but lonely, relying on the companionship of his two friends. Finally i see a prince that doesn't treat Beatrice's refusing him as a joke, but who takes it to heart and is sad about it. Anna fanworth did well in her role, but I don't think it was such a smart move having innogen there. john ramm was a superb Dogberry, bright and funny and fantastic when compared to kenneth Branaghs version. I actually managed to undertsand what he was saying this time.
I wouldn't give this production five stars, because i've seen better. But it was superb and energetic, and I don't think i've ever laughed as much in theatre in my whole life. - Laura H.
15 Dec 11
Not the Tennant/Tate show tonight as he was off, laryngitis. She's fun and undoubtedly will pull in an audience who would, perhaps, never dream of going to see Shakespeare - so in that regard it's great - tonight they were really enjoying it. Josie Rourke tried her best directing a lead actress who isn't a classical actress. I hate to put this production down because for the most part I really enjoyed it, but I've been spoilt a few years back I had the good fortune to see Lucy Peacock and Peter Donaldson play Beatrice and Benedick to perfection - that was at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada. Apart from the flaws in casting the design, by Robert Jones, was stunning. But, ultimately, the production failed to do justice to Shakespeare magnificent story and yet, on the other hand, tonight it made a house full of people laugh and for all the same reasons I guess they did 400 years ago. - rds
30 Aug 11
I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud so much at a play! David Tennant was comedy gold, and the rest of the cast were excellent too in their own different ways. - Helen
23 Aug 11
A terrific night of theatre despite Catherine Tate not being a good actress. She is a great comedian, gifted with exaggeration and mimicry, but an actress able to convey real emotions on stage, not yet. David Tennant, on the other hand, is unmissably brilliant. His Hamlet was my favourite of the recent Hamlet incarnations, more electric, more alive than Rory and Jude. An actor friend of mine once said to me that anger and crying are easy on stage, but joy, that's almost impossible. But Tennant is so convincingly joyous as Benedick when he thinks Beatrice loves him. His excitement is palpable, his split second moment to moment processing of his own thoughts easily read from his expressions. Everybody in the theatre fell in love with his Benedick. Tennant's tenderness is as realised as his sarcasm and playfulness. His comedy timing too is peerless, you fully trust he'll make the most of every single comedic moment in the text, and find extra ones too. This was a masterclass in comedic Shakespearean acting. Tennant's best support comes from Adam James, who portrays Don Pedro as jocular, affable, manly, decent, a timelessly bluff rugged army type that seems quintessentially British. The production is excellent, with a wonderful revolving stage maximising the humourous opportunities in the text, and eighties references enhancing the playful mood. But it is Tennant that makes this a must see. If Sheridan Smith had played Beatrice, this would have been unmissably 5 stars! - Steve
11 Aug 11
Unfortunately I am not a Shakespeare lover though some of the lighter plays are OK. I really went to see this because of the cast and all good and David Tennant gives a good performance. As much as I love Catherine Tate and have seen most of her stage productions, I did find that she was like playing another of her characters from one of her TV shows. Also one thing that does not work for me is that when the make these traditional plays ,modern it just click. All these "To Thee" and old English sentences and expressions and they are all running around as a summer fashion of M & S, H & M and Primark fashions!!!! sorry spoils it for me - Joe Spiteri
13 Jul 11
Even with a dreadful cold (apologies to the occupant of Seat 14) Much Ado. . never fails to lift the spirits and the first half of Josie Rourke's 1980-set production fully exploits the opportunities for riotous humour. David Tennant has superb comic timing and his post-gulling speech is almost a stand-up routine. Based on her three stage appearances in recent years Catherine Tate's acting range extend no further than being Catherine Tate the TV character - she fails to capture any of Beatrice's vulnerability and is frankly a bit common to be the neice of an aristocratic family. Not all of Rourke's tricks come off, she can't completely master the massive change of tone after the interval and at times I thought we were watching Much Ado the Musical - Adam James looked on the verge of bursting into song at one point. This may be a populist production which will appeal to those brought in by the "celebrity" casting but that's no bad thing for one of Shakespeare's most entertaining comedies. - David Baxter
19 Jun 11
Given the casting for this play, it would matter little how good or otherwise the production is as every seat must now be sold out. It certainly promised much - Tennant and Tate have an obvious chemistry which could really sparkle as Benedick and Beatrice. Whilst it was ok, there was more of a fizzle than sparkle. David Tennant does not dissapoint - he is too good a Shakespearean comedy actor not to make the most of this part. Catherine Tate however failed to deliver for me. She seemed to be playing her TV characters through Beatrice which I found rather annoying. The comedy was also missing. The scene where she gets hoisted up could have been so much more funny than it was. The production does not help - Benedick/Beatrice go from despising each other to being in love within the blink of an eye. Some of the supporting cast fare better than others. I liked Tom Bateman as Claudio, however Sarah MacRae as Hero was weak. Lets be honest though, this show is all about Tennant and Tate and for me they failed to deliver as much as I hoped for. - Paul Wallis
06 Jun 11
I saw this last week and found it very, very funny. Even the Dogberry scenes are funny, which is often not the case. David Tennant is fantastic as Benedict but it's a part pretty much made for him. I thought Catherine Tate was fantastic. She has real stage presence - as witnessed in Seasons Greetings at the National earlier. I wasn't entirely convinced by the director's setting and vision, which seemed a bit forced. This is showing Shakespeare as the original RomCom writer - the 1980s theme is grounded in the cinematic imagery of the decade, with the prince's men dressed like Top Gun/Officer and a Gentleman extras. The villa is like an Ibiza party palace - very Club Med. But overall it is a really good night out; when I saw it there were three ecstatic curtain calls and audience and cast seemed to have really enjoyed themselves. - Lucrezia Borgia
Whatsonstage.com - Discount London theatre tickets, theatre news and reviews, Theatre videos, Theatre discussion, National Theatre Listings. Covering London's West End, all of Theatreland and all UK theatre. The best
for London Theatre Ticket Discounts.