THERE was another fine Shakespearean outing for MadCap Theatre when a superb cast staged Much Ado About Nothing in the garden of Droitwich’s St Andrew’s Church.
With the backdrop of the Spa’s historic buildings, the setting could not have been better – there was a level of intimacy which at times felt like you had a professional production playing out in front of you in your own back garden.
Among the best scenes in the first act were the masquerade ball where, set against cheerful music and chatter, the various couples toyed with each other behind their disguises and the moment Benedick overhears a conversation describing how Beatrice is in love with him but is too afraid to let it be known.
Jefferson Bond, who played the lovestruck lead, put in the performance of the evening – epitomised in that scene. His portrayal generated plenty of laughs from the 80-strong audience, particularly when the character was so overcome with emotion he fell down the stairs – great visual comedy. His confiding in and consulting with the audience about his matters of the heart also made him a firm favourite with the crowd.
The only snag with outdoor theatre is the unpredictability of the English weather and towards the end of the first act there was a rain shower, sunshine and even a rainbow. But amidst the short-lived drizzle, the tenacious cast carried on regardless, coats went on and umbrellas went up in the crowd and rather than dampen the spirits of a great evening’s entertainment, the classic British stiff upper lip tactics even added a bit more fun to the show.
The second act began in lively fashion where the characters intermingled with those watching, hiding behind chairs and helping themselves to bits of picnic and then the show, as evening changed to night, got darker.
There followed the most powerful scenes of the whole production, starting with Claudio and Hero’s wedding where he falsely accuses her of being unfaithful. James Labdarbs’ and Eva McKenna’s portrayals of the pair were excellent throughout but particularly during this scene and you could hear a pin drop as the pair clashed at the altar.
Likewise, the scene where Leonardo and his brother almost come to blows with the prince and Claudio. It featured some great monologues from Alex Francis and Pat Hobday and again had the audience fixated.
Other strong performances included Matilda Bott as the playful Beatrice and Robert Moore as night constable Dogberry – he provided smatterings of humour which were much-needed in the darker second half of the play.
MadCap Theatre’s reputation is growing dramatically (excuse the pun) and watching this you can see why.
As they have successfully accomplished in previous performances, the way they present Shakespeare’s plays is in a way that makes it effortless to understand and that has led to them being loved equally by fans of The Bard and those who usually shy away from these centuries old classics.
The show comes to Artrix in Bromsgrove at 7.30pm on Saturday (August 6).
Tickets for the Bromsgrove performance are £13 (£11 Concessions) and are available by visiting www.artrix.co.uk or the box office in person, and by phoning 01527 577330.
Visit www.madcaptheatreproductions.co.uk or search for MadCap Theatre on Facebook.