Full of energy and promising performers.
You wouldn’t have known that SUSU theatre group’s rendition of Much Ado About Nothing was a freshers show if it hadn’t have been advertised as such! In bringing the classic Shakespearean comedy to life, the cast performed with conviction, skill and enthusiasm, although one or two of them may have been a little too exuberant in parts!
Charlie Randall presented a Benedick who was a strange but interesting mix of dopey, slimy and emotional. It wasn’t the Benedick I’d imagined when reading the play, but it worked on so many levels! Randall has great physicality and knows just how to work the audience!
Flora Whitmarsh played opposite Randall as a sassy and sarcastic Beatrice. She brought humour and wit to the part and the later emotional scenes between her and Benedict were handled with great affection and skill. My favourite scene saw Whitmarsh clambering across the audience to eavesdrop on Hero and Ursula in the garden. This moment could have easily dissolved into outright farce, but Whitmore struck the perfect balance.
Josh Vaatstra also needs commending for his portrayal of love sick Claudio. He was, in places, so vulnerable and hurt that you just wanted to give him a cuddle! Not that Vaatstra is a one trick pony, his happier and loved up scenes were played with equal skill.
Meanwhile Gem Tunley had the difficult job of playing Hero, the nice but rather characterless love interest of Claudio. Tunley gave Hero some agency and gravitas and certainly made the best of a tricky part. Her performance in the first wedding scene, when she is slandered by Claudio and Peter, was exceptionally moving. It would have been only too easy to over-act the emotion, but Tunley was spot on.
The set design was minimal, a few deck chairs or a bed every so often, a balcony and a flower power inspired 60s backdrop. It worked well enough, though I would have liked to have seen the 60s element brought out a little bit more. An effort was made in the first act during the dance scene, with 60s style music and dancing, however it was a little bit flat.
Much Ado About Nothing was at The Annex Theatre from 18th November – 21st November.
Photo Credit: Andy Sugden and SUSU Theatre Group