“Much Ado About Nothing” at Gray’s Inn Hall

Antic Disposition are an acclaimed theatre company who tour to gorgeous locations. Having shown this neat new production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy in English cathedrals and at open-air venues in France – so the show is in tip-top form –their London sojourn marks a return visit for them to this beautiful Tudor hall. The location, alongside a production full of fun, makes the evening easy to recommend.

Inspired by the company’s travels, the play is relocated to France after the end of World War II. The move makes the most of an Anglo-French cast and aims to inject the bonhomie of a liberated nation with tricolour bunting and café style seating for some audience members. Several bilingual performers are impressive but there are some strong accents deployed by all the cast and some lines are lost. It’s a pity not to hear everything but all the performers make up for this with energy and élan. The trio of Beatrice, Hero and Margaret are played by Chiraz Aïch, Floriane Andersen and Molly Miles who make an impressively close team. Stiff upper lips abound for the English soldiers who come wooing: an idea that adds comedy to the performances from Nicolas Osmond as Benedict and Alexander Varey as Claudio, while resulting in a more prominent role than some productions allow for Theo Landey’s excellent Don Pedro.

French flair also aids the role of Constable Dogsberry (let’s be honest, those scenes are sometimes tiresome) whose malapropisms may now recall Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo although programme notes say the source is Jacques Tati. Either way lots of physical comedy allows Louis Bernard to get laughs and win over the audience. The company’s founders, Ben Horslen and John Risebero, co-direct the show with an eye on entertainment. An excellent score from Nick Barstow fills out both period and location, while calling on the ensemble to pick up their instruments further illustrates their talents and piles on winning charm.

Until 1 September 2018


Photo by Scott Rylander