My regular readers will know that nothing much makes me happier than to be able to skip out of my front door and go into my local theatre. Indeed, I have been here reviewing so much recently that I am anticipating the day when I turn up and there is a seat with a small brass plaque with my name on it. (it’s my birthday next month by the way!) Anyhoo, tonight’s offering is Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. This really does go to show the broad spectrum of theatre that goes on in the White Bear. The exciting thing about this though is that it is to be bought to us by an exciting new troupe “DALMATIAN THEATRE COMPANY.” They are a newly formed ensemble of recent graduates from the LAMDA Foundation Course.
And what a young and attractive ensemble they are. They range from 18-21. The have the energy and enthusiasm that young adults should and are devoid of any cynicism, which makes them charming, I spoke to a few of the cast after the show but more of that later.
The setting has been moved from Shakespeare’s Messina to the world of a contemporary office. Combining social comedy with all the sexual tensions generated by the unavoidable proximity of the environment and the impossibility of privacy.
I have seen a great many productions of Shakespeare plays where the setting has been adapted and, indeed why not. Sometimes however, the ideas have been far too outlandish that they step out of the realms of probability and plant their feet firmly into the fields of pretentious twaddle. This was not the case. I am sure most of us either do, or have at some time worked in an office. Romances happen (especially after parties). There is a natural pecking order of characters, especially with some putting themselves to a status higher than they should. The office joker. The office lothario. Well, all of the characters are in the play, Much Ado About Nothing. So this setting was an absolutely perfect one. It absolutely works.
The acting from this young troupe is sublime. It is blatantly obvious as an audience member when we are seeing a group of friends working together. Off stage chemistry relays itself onstage. They all had faith and trust in each other and this made for their character relationships to come across as genuine. There was not a single let down performance by anybody and believe me, I am sat on the front row with my eagle eyes flitting around at such speed I’ve been known to come over a little queer!
What’s more, they added in some music. Nothing jarring or out of place but when they all sang together as a collective, it was beautiful. They harmonise like The Nolan Sisters had only dreamed about (Now, the 18-21 yr old cast will probably have to Google them to see who I’m on about.)
When speaking to the cast I discovered that it was originally the brainchild of Gregory Birks, in the play he is Benedick whom he delivers with a mixture of delightful campery and a loveable arrogance.
Another two cast members that deserve a mention are Bebe Barry (Barrachio and Friar Frances) and Tammi Bello (Dogberry). Both of these young actors displayed the impeccable comic timing that cannot be taught. One either has it, or not. To see Borrachio staggering around the stage trying to tidy up after a party. Weaving between characters until she eventually vomits into a bin bag was sublime. The most incredible part though, she did it so subtly that she never once appeared to be trying to pull focus off any of the other actors who were speaking. I believe we have a comic genius in the making here. Tammi Bello on the other hand is the sort of comedian who doesn’t need to do much at all. She has a wonderfully expressive face. One look can speak a thousand words. We don’t need to hear those words, just take in the look. And when the line does come……….POW!
Please don’t think that the rest of the cast are any lesser, they most definitely aren’t. I would like to write about them all but I’m already stretching my column inches! So, as my finale I will say that if you can get to the White Bear to see this production of Much Ado About Nothing, then do it. If not, keep your goggles on and look for DALMATION THEATRE COMPANY (@DalmatianTheatr on twitter and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DalmatianTheatre). They are going on to do great things.
By Dickie Neil
Much Ado About Nothing
This modern take on one of William Shakespeare’s most loved comedies is set to entertain and delight with its wit and humour. Set in a contemporary office environment, young lovers and colleagues Claudio and Hero have their upcoming marriage threatened by a jealous scheming manager, Don John. Meanwhile, more resentful colleagues Benedick and Beatrice bicker joyfully back and forth struggling to admit their clear love for one other. As the work stacks up in the office, everyone is hoping for a holiday in the form of a wedding, but will one ever happen?
Established in 2015, Dalmatian Theatre Company is formed entirely of LAMDA foundation graduates. The young, newly founded ensemble hopes to bring energy and fresh talent to the stage as they take on some of the most exciting plays ever written.
2nd to 6th June 2015
Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm
Thursday 4th June 2015