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Much Ado About Nothing (Globe)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The rain and clouds might have led a decidedly chilly atmosphere over Jeremy Herrin's vision of sunny Messina but there are compensations a-plenty in this slick production of one of Shakespeare's wittiest comedies.

Eve Best invests in Beatrice a fiery spirit allied to her natural wit. There's a natural reluctance to trust her instincts about Benedick - the couple's history seems to have left its mark and Best presents more of Beatrice’s vulnerability than is usual.

When the pair have finally revealed their love for each other, there's normally a palpable shift in mood but Best maintains her independent streak, shown from the outset when she refuses to dress herself up to greet the soldiers. There's cruelty too with her hysterical laughter when she rejects Ewan Stewarts plain-speaking Don Pedro.

There's little of the martial combatant in Charles Edwards' rather camp Benedick, who all too obviously relishes gossip and shares asides with the audience like a Paduan Frankie Howard. But this delicacy rather complements this Beatrice – they're certainly a well-matched pair.

One of the key advantages of the Globe is the closeness to the audience and Herrin's production scores highly here - there's a good deal of interaction with the audience, particularly when Beatrice hugs someone from the front row. And the cheer when the lovers finally kissed was the biggest I've heard at the Globe.

Edwards plays Benedick like a music-hall comedian, there’s also a touch of variety about the constables too – I found Paul Hunter's Jack Douglas-like Dogberry rather tedious but there's some good business with some lantern and Adrian Hood's bovine Verges makes a good counterpoint to this fussy Dogberry.

If you get your Beatrice and Benedick right, then the production normally works. The Globe has succeeded triumphantly here – it will be a hard act for Wyndham's to follow next week.

- Maxwell Cooter


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