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Review of Much Ado About Nothing at St Paul’s Church Covent Garden

Much Ado About Nothing Emma McDonald (Hero) and Anne-Marie Piazza (Beatrice)
Much Ado About Nothing Emma McDonald (Hero) and Anne-Marie Piazza (Beatrice) Photo Hannah Barton

Apparently summer’s coming at last. Which has to be excellent news for this delightful and feisty production of Much Ado About Nothing, performed (mostly) in the gorgeous and evocative gardens of Saint Paul’s Church, conveniently located on the piazza in Covent Garden.

The dynamic and very able ensemble of seven worked summer magic even on a chilly and damp evening, it has to be said. Managing to hold the attention of one hundred and sixty schoolchildren, who scampered after them, so many Shakespearean pied pipers, leading us in the twilight from playful, effective set to set, along paths of rambling roses, hebe and flowering elderflower. A place where chandeliers have been hung from trees.

The mood is playful from the off. Anne-Marie Piazza as Beatrice has you in her audience and is not going to let you drift back to the modern world, just beyond the boundaries of her playing gardens, until she has finished with you. Full of fun, she sparkles. The exchanges between her and Nick Howard-Brown (Benedick) have a freshness and believability that is a pleasure to watch. Her vulnerability in love lurks as he plays, commitment phobic until he’s sweet. In turn, Graeme Dalling makes a handsome Claudio impassioned but foolish as he should, while his Hero (Emma MacDonald) mellifluously captivates.

Every role is magnified in this cut, directed with pace and verve by Amy Draper. Jennifer Clement is a master of disguise, playing four different roles. Darrel Bailey is a powerful Don Pedro and Denis Delahunt as Leonato and Sexton, makes a most entertaining master of all ceremonies.

The cast play music, and sing too. Charming beneath the trees. I also liked the transfers between sets. I got the impression this sense of an adventure helped keep the children engaged.

Should the English summer weather fail and you happen to get a little chilly during the performance, the very helpful, very friendly ‘front of garden’ staff will oblige in making their ready facilities of tea and coffee, not to mention. the bar available to you.

What a terrific way to spend a midsummer evening, in the green, in Central London.

4 stars

Review by Marian Kennedy

Much Ado About Nothing is a delightful celebration of the overwhelming power of love. Hero loves Claudio, and nothing, not even the scheming slander of a resentful Prince will stop them from being together. Beatrice hates Benedick, and Benedick despises Beatrice, but the more they bicker and fight, the deeper they will fall in love. This is a laugh-out-loud comedy for all ages.

Iris Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s greatest ever comedy in a promenade production in the grounds and interior of St Paul’s (the Actors’ Church) in the heart of London’s Covent Garden from Wednesday 22nd June to Friday 22 July 2016.

St Paul’s Church
Bedford St
Covent Garden
London, WC2E 9ED
Wednesday 22 June – Friday 22 July

Evening performances start at 7.30pm
Matinee performances start at 2.30pm
Running Time: 2h 30min
(including interval)
Box Office will be located at the Covent Garden Entrance, not on Bedford Street.


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