REVIEW: Rain or Shine presents ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

By Richard Whitehouse   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Wednesday 5th September 2018 7:00 am
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The? Rain or Shine Theatre Company delighted audience members at Goodrich Castle recently, with their latest production of William’s Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’

Despite the very wet, very cold weather, the performance was attended by many on Friday, August 24th, who huddled outside to watch within the grounds of the castle. Thankfully, the rain cleared just as the performance began and stayed dry throughout.

Taking place in the little known Cotswold village, Messina, the action was set in 1918, just after the First World War peace treaty. The British Military Forces, with the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, return to their homes where they are met by Mistress Leonato, her daughter Hero, and her orphaned niece, Beatrice.

Pippa Meekings was perfect for the part of Beatrice, with great comic timing, an infectious laugh, and a clarity to the musical tone of her voice which came across perfectly in the outdoor performance setting.?She also had tons of energy and huge gestures, which paired perfectly with her love interest, the larger than life, Benedick, played by Peter M. Smith.

Peter was a stand out in the performance, with huge facial expressions and a charming, likeable quality to him, with an equally enormous amount of energy.

Both Benedick and Beatrice provided excellent comedy, but also moments of genuine emotion and love, particularly in act two, towards the play’s resolution. Their two deception scenes, which help the pair admit their feelings for each other, had the audience in fits of laughter.

The second love story involves Benedick’s comrade, Claudio, and Leonato’s daughter, Hero.

Claudio and Hero fall for each other instantly, but deception also plays a part in their story, as villains from the Gloucestershire Regiment, Don John, Borachio and Conrad, trick Claudio into believing that Hero is not virtuous, and has been unfaithful.

Hurt and betrayed, Claudio accuses Hero on their wedding day, publicly shaming her, which dramatically changes the tone of the play. This is where we see a different side to Claudio, played by Jamie Littlewood. The loved-up Claudio is no more, and Jamie did a fantastic job of convincing us of Claudio’s hatred and pain, realising he was in love with a woman ‘without honour’.

Later, we also see his immense regret, when he realises he has falsely accused Hero.

On accusation, Hero, played by Jasmine Raymond, fainted, which was executed truthfully and most believably. Hero when waking, rather than play the ‘damsel in distress’, is fiesty in response to her accusations, which was refreshing to watch.

The play explores themes of deceit and deception, used as a means to good or bad ends, but the villains, ‘The Gloucestershire Regiment’ are eventually caught by the hilarious ‘Cotswold Watch’, and the play resolves with music, dancing and merriment.

To find out more about the Rain or Shine Theatre Company, please visit their website: http://www.rainorshine.co.uk/

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