A powerful exploration of the struggle for identity and self-knowledge in a male-dominated world, Bell Shakespeare presents Much Ado About Nothing at Arts Centre Melbourne from 17 July, before taking Shakespeare’s timeless comic gem to venues around Australia.
Claudio and Hero are deeply in love. Beatrice and Benedick would rather swap sassy insults than sweet nothings. Much Ado About Nothing is a saucy and razor-sharp battle of wits between the bickering Beatrice and Benedick who wield words as weapons, their banter betraying their love for each other.
Claudio however is quickly consumed by envy and his idyllic world threatens to come tumbling down as he humiliates Hero. Beatrice and Benedick must join forces to defend true love – even if they can’t recognise it in themselves. But will truth and honesty win the day, and does love really conquer all?
Directed by Bell Shakespeare’s Associate Director, James Evans (Julius Caesar), Much Ado About Nothing stars Zindzi Okenyo (Antony and Cleopatra) as Beatrice, with Duncan Ragg as Benedick (The Kitchen Sink, Ensemble Theatre). They will be joined on stage by Vivienne Awosoga, Danny Ball, Marissa Bennett, Mandy Bishop, Will McDonald, Suzanne Pereira, Paul Reichstein and David Whitney.
After directing Bell Shakespeare’s national tour of Julius Caesar in 2018, James Evans is thrilled to steer the 2019 tour. “Much Ado About Nothing is the original ‘from hate to love’ romantic comedy that we’ve seen repeated in films and plays since Shakespeare’s time,” he said.
“But beneath its sparkling wit and hilarious characters, there is a dark conflict that drives this play to the edge of tragedy. The story flips from uproarious comedy to utter heartbreak in an instant, and then back again. That is the genius of Shakespeare, and why this play is one of my absolute favourites,” added Evans.
“As Australia’s national theatre company, our commitment is to make our work available to all Australians, including those outside capital cities,” said Bell Shakespeare’s Executive Director Gill Perkins. “Our national tour is one of the most important things we do in pursuit of this mission and we are thrilled to present Much Ado About Nothing to Australians in 2019.”
Director: James Evans Featuring: Vivienne Awosoga, Danny Ball, Marissa Bennett, Mandy Bishop, Will McDonald, Zindzi Okenyo, Suzanne Pereira, Duncan Ragg, Paul Reichstein, David Whitney Designer: Pip Runciman Lighting Designer: Niklas Pajanti Composer & Sound Designer: Andrée Greenwell Movement & Fight Director: Nigel Poulton Voice & Text Coach: Jess Chambers
Much Ado About Nothing
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road Melbourne
Season: 17 – 27 July 2019
Following the Melbourne season, the production will embark on a national tour across Australia. For more information, including all performance venues and dates, visit: www.bellshakespeare.com.au for details.
Image: Zindzi Okenyo – photo by Pierre Toussaint