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Hit Songs And Slapstick Give Shakespeare A New Look
Methinks William Shakespeare would have been mightily pleased with this adaptation of one of his most famous works. Much Ado About Nothing is generally considered one of Shakespeare's best comedies, combining moments of real hilarity with the more serious subjects of love, honour and betrayal.
But he would have been hard pressed to imagine the amazing goings-on in this wonderful version of Much Ado About Nothing by the Derby-based Oddsocks touring theatre company which marks the 400th birthday of the playwright's birth. As audiences at Lichfield Garrick theatre discovered, the essential story of love between Claudio and Hero, and Benedick and Beatrice, remains unaltered, but Oddsocks cleverly use the power of music to help the story move along wonderfully well.
So in between the brilliance of Shakespeare's writing, which is not diminished one iota in Oddsocks' version, we also have musical interludes that give us the likes of Edwin Starr's "War", Beyoncé's "Put A Ring On It", and The Killers' "Mr Brightside". But the most appropriate numbers, which are all sung and accompanied by the superb cast members themselves, are "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, when Claudio is tricked into believing Hero has deceived him, and "True Colours" by Cyndi Lauper, when Benedick and Beatrice are similarly deceived into confessing their love for each other. And, appropriately, we finish on "Love Is All Around" by Wet, Wet, Wet to bring us the happy ending that Shakespeare intended.
As well as the musical offerings, Oddsocks also bring us a number of modern references as the show often descends into madcap slapstick, in particular a hilarious torture scene, with Don John becoming the 'pantomime villain' complete with boos from the audience whenever he appears on stage. As well as references to a vacuum cleaner, comedienne Jo Brand, and the appearance of mobile phones, we also get a simulated helicopter landing as the principal male characters return from war.
Will they, won't they as Hero prepares to marry Claudio