Audio Review: Much Ado About Nothing

(AudioGo, �13.25)

AS former Time Lord David Tennant struts the boards of the Wyndham Theatre as Benedick in Josie Rourke’s new version of Much Ado About Nothing, his earlier incarnation can be found in the same role for this BBC Radio 4 production.

But instead of fellow Doctor Who star Catherine Tate as Beatrice, he is here paired with Samantha Spiro, and joined by an all-start cast including Emilia Fox, Chiwetel Ejiofor (currently starring in BBC1’s The Shadow Line) and Julian Rhind-Tutt.

The story is a familiar one, and explores the eternal themes of love, jealousy and honour, focussing on two pairs of very different lovers and the trials and tribulations they experience en route to the altar.

Claudio and Hero are in love and soon to be married, but as they prepare for their wedding, they decide to play a trick on confirmed singletons Beatrice and Benedick, who both scorn marriage and enjoy nothing more than expressing their mutual disdain. But as they scheme to persuade Benedick and Beatrice of each other’s reciprocated love, the evil Don John plots to destroy their own relationship for good….

The beauty of Shakespeare on audio is the way nothing can distract you from the genius of his writing, here portrayed best in the verbal sparring between his two protagonists, who capture the humour and wit of his writing with aplomb.

Although the emphasis in this audio will undoubtedly be on Tennant, as he is the very reason for its re-release, one shouldn’t ignore Samantha Spiro’s cracking performance as a fiercely intelligent Beatrice whose high-spirited antics hide her wounded personality.

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A first-rate dramatisation which is well-worth checking out before it is eclipsed by the Wyndham production.