“Much Ado About Nothing” Another Review

Actually there’s not much in your reading this review of the 2005 TV “Adaptation” since it doesn’t seem to be available in any format unless, like me, you have a friend who recorded it from the TV. But my obsession with the play is growing; it’s become my favorite Shakespeare comedy (with the possible exception of The Dream).

This TV adaptation is not so much an adaptation, it’s like when you buy a soundtrack CD only to find it packed with tracks that were never in the film because the small print says “from or inspired by” and this is definitely inspired by. They’re not Shakespeare’s words. And I’ve always thought Shakepeare’s plots were not what he should be remembered for (in fact they’re mostly not his anyway) so why keep that and when you’re chucking the dialogue. Also, I’m sure Shakespeare didn’t write Bennedick standing up Beatrice three years before the action of the piece, and doing so by text message.

In fact, the writing (Cold Feet and Starter for Ten‘s David Nicholls) is extremely good. The action is transposed to the newsroom of a local TV station, Beatrice and Bennedick are newsreaders whilst Hero (daughter of producer Leaonard) is the weather girl. The dialogue zings: “Love’s just one of those things a man grows into, like jazz and olives” (from the alternate “the world must be peopled” speech). The cast features Damien Lewis and Martin Jarvis, with Doctor Who heroine Billie Piper as Hero and The Runaway Bride villain Sarah Parish as Beatrice who are excellent, and whilst liberties are taken (no Borrachio, “Don” is a Hero’s ex, Margaret whilst appearing plays no part in the plot) there are even improvements. Hero, out of hospital, tells Claude “I’m bored of people using love as an excuse” and refuses to marry him. It kept me entertained right up to Beatrice and Bennedick corpsing at their own wedding, and whilst it’s not Shakespeare’s “Much Ado”, it’s a fresh look at the story, and I find myself looking forward all the more to our Summer production of the play at Lewes Castle.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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