Much Ado About Nothing is
one of the best loved 'comedies' of the classic repertoire. Teeming
with glamorous young things, hilarious clowns and serious men
of state, Red Shift's absorbing ensemble production also emphasises
the real meat of the text with its threatening atmosphere of
humiliation, revenge and the startling brutality that lives behind
the smiling mask of Shakespeare's Sicily.
Italy is divided into warring
factions, brother against brother. We join the characters at
the end of a brief but bloody conflict that has left a palpable
atmosphere of suspicion and latent violence hanging in the air.
Stalked by danger, two loving relationships splutter into life
- one mature, cynical and guarded, the other youthful and impetuous
- the courses of which are perverted and brought to the brink
of disaster by the machinations of two ruthless, manipulative
Red Shift stayed faithful
to Shakespeare's craftsmanship while reinterpreting characters,
scenes and passages of dialogue in an unfamiliar way that rendered
an old friend into a driving contemporary narrative. The result
was an evening of inventive and challenging theatre, unexpected
shocks and laughter, respect for the text and outrageous liberties
in equal measure.
Running at just 90 mins,
this was both an entertainment and a thought-provoking re-imagining;
a highly theatrical ensemble entertainment with intellectual
weight. Nominally set in the excoriating moral vacuum of Yugoslavia
in 1991, this production quickly earned the same respect and
acclaim that previously met Red Shift's 'without witches' Macbeth,
which toured the world winning awards, and a First Quarto Hamlet
based on what academics call the 'bastard' text, that was a huge
success and played in over 50 theatres.