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Much Ado About Nothing review at Dundee Repertory Theatre – ‘plays it for laughs’

Ewan Somers and ensemble in Much Ado About Nothing at Dundee Rep. Photo: Tommy Ga Ken Wa Ewan Somers and ensemble in Much Ado About Nothing at Dundee Rep. Photo: Tommy Ga Ken Wa
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No modern settings or costumes.  No relocation to another time. This is a very traditional Much Ado About Nothing. Directed by ensemble member Irene Macdougall, this production plays it for laughs – and they are plentiful, thanks to a sterling performance by Robert Jack as the reluctant suitor Benedick. His performance is a lesson in how to react – his face and body eloquent, his squirming done with subtlety and great comic timing.

He is not alone in having strong comedy chops. Antony Strachan (Dogberry) and Ann Louise Ross (Verges) make telling contributions in their too-brief appearances, while Jo Freer brings a bit of good Glasgow banter to the role of Margaret. Even the choreographer is in on the act – Emily-Jane Boyle’s dance sequences are hilarious in their quirkiness (there’s even a bit of the Twist in there).

This play of love won, lost and won again is given weight by experienced ensemble member Emily Winter as Beatrice, and there are admirable performances from graduate actors Marli Siu, as Hero, and Ewan Somers, as Claudio.

Ken Harrison’s huge, atmospheric set makes full use of the expansive Dundee Rep stage area, all marble and granite effects with imposing pillars and walls like giant shower-screens, bathed in glorious Mediterranean sunshine and sunk in shadow by lighting designer Mike Robertson.

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Laughs abound in a traditional staging of Shakespeare by a skilled ensemble