The Independent London Newspaper


THEATRE: Much Ado About Nothing at Noel Coward

Meera Syall and Amara Karan in Much Ado About Nothing

Meera Syall and Amara Karan in Much Ado About Nothing

Published: 10 October, 2012

Noel Coward Theatre

MUCH Ado About Nothing set the standard for a thousand rom-coms to follow – but there is no froth frothier than this frothy frothery.

Bollywood superstar Iqbal Khan, in an RSC debut, breathes new life into Shakespeare’s feelgood romp.

It is a far cry from the hessian-sack-wooden-barrel-trumpet-parping “tradition” of the Globe Theatre, or the quaint, white-tunic-clad prancing about of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in their celebrated 1993 film version.

My sister Kate, 18, said the show was “great” because it “didn’t feel like Shakespeare”.

Set to a bustling Indian backdrop, the senses are stirred by a riot of colourful costumes, song and explosive dance. One bulldog-faced man – who had bollocked a bloke for texting during the show – leapt up suddenly clapping and stamping his feet to the Bollywood beat.

The coming together of the bachelor champion Benedick (Paul Bhattarcharjee) with man-despairing Beatrice (Meera Syal) – would lift the heaviest heart.

The plot shows the importance of checking facts. Claudio (Sagar Arya) is told that his wife-to-be, Hero (Amara Karan), leaves her window open for random men to clamber through at night. He says he will see for himself but doesn’t, choosing instead to walk out on her wedding day while calling her a whore.

Thursday night was a red carpet affair with the creme of Indian acting talent – and a beaming Richard E Grant – packing the stalls.

Photographers stormed the auditorium at curtain like American marines on a raid, yapping “which is Hero?”
Karan, the former City banker turned rising RSC star, put in an assured performance. But Anjana Vasan – playing a new role of curious servant maid – was my pick of the night.

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