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Much Ado About Nothing

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow
Three stars

It could easily feel like all your Christmases have come at once judging by the opening of Jennifer Dick's production of Shakespeare's original rom-com, performed here by MA students from the RCS' Classical and Contemporary Text course. The fairy-lit tree is in full bloom, the tartan curtains are pulled back and everybody's dressed in fifty shades of tweed in a modern dress take on things that appears to be set among the Highland horsey set with whom Don John's camouflage-clad regiment are decamped.

Eleanor Henderson's Beatrice more resembles a land girl as she spars with Duncan Harte's officer-class Benedick over Hogmanay while her cousin Hero and Benedick's sidekick Claudio have a seemingly more straightforward romance. As they eavesdrop in on the machinations they think they're party to, both B and B are unable to see the wood for the trees, the latter played rather splendidly by a cast led by Zoe Bullock's pint-sized apple-bearing sapling. While Bullock has even more fun as Dogberry, things take a darker turn in the second half prior to happy ever afters all round.

Rom-coms probably shouldn't last just shy of three hours, even with an interval, but there is so much comic business and contemporary extemporising grafted on so you can barely see the join that you can let Dick and co off for seriously good behaviour. Of course there's a ceilidh, but there's Burns, the Bay City Rollers and an anglicised mis-hear of Auld Lang Syne too. Even Alan Titchmarsh makes an appearance as both Henderson and Harte make the text sound under-statedly natural in this merriest of dramatic dances.

The Herald, March 7th 2016

ends

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