Upon One’s Troth, Denzel Would Be Proud!
Then (1993) & Now (2023)
Director ~ Producer ~Adaptor ~ Actor
(Hollywood Movie 1993)
Tuscany, Villa Vignamaggio
Claudio Is Struck By Love At First Sight When He Sees Hero For The First Time But Benedict Is Horrified And Protests That His Friend’s Willingness To Surrender His Bachelorhood Is Too Folly & Too Fast.
But Due To A Combination of Meddling & Malice, Friendship & Fussing, Entanglements & Incroachments, Things Soon Take A Tragic & Dramatic Turn For Both These Lovelorn Officers & Nobelmen
Claudio ~ Robert Sean Leonard
(Hollywood Movie 1993)
Ironically It Is Borachio Who Helps Save Hero. But Only After He Is Arrested. He Is The Author of His Own Demise – And His Masters – After He Is Overheard Bragging About Being Part of The Defamation Scheme.
He Confesses His Master’s Foul Play. And Don John Is Duly Exposed. Despite His Attempts To Take Flight He Is Apprehended And Taken To Don Pedro To Be Dealt With.
Borachio ~ (Don John’s Henchman)
Gerard Horan, 1993
Don Pedro ~ (Prince of Aragon)
Is Friend To Everyone
Don Pedro ~ Denzel Washington ~ 1993
The Late Briars Was Brilliant In The Original Movie And His Change From Loving Evuncular Father To A Disapproving Shamed And Disgusted Violent Monster Is One of The Most Shocking Moments of The Moving.
His Chemistry With Brian Blessed Who Plays His Brother, Antonio (The Father of Beatrice) And Also With Denzel (The Esteemed Guest And Handsome Prince) Is Central To What Makes This Movie Such A Success And A Joy To Watch.
Leonato ~ (Hero’s Father) ~ (The Late) Richard Briers ~ Governor of Messina
Don John Conspires With Borachio To Impune Hero’s Reputation They Inviegle Margaret, Beatrice’s Lady-In-Waiting, To Stand At Hero’s Bedroom Window & Fake The Froes of Passion, With Borachio Calling Out The Virgin’s Name.
Slanderous Tradegy Strikes For Hero!
The Rousing Joyful Theme Tune To Which The Film Opens As The Two Brother’s And Their Courtiers Ride Into Town On Their Steds Makes For One of Cinema’s Best Dramatic Entrances & Powerful Opening Scenes.
And That Is Thanks To Real Life Musician Patrick Doyle, Who Also Appears On Screen In The Film.
Musical Composer ~Patrick Doyle (R)
Friar ~ Patrick Doyle (R)
Balthzar ~ Don Pedro’s Personal Musician ~
Jimmy Yuille (L) ~ 1993
Benedick Vehemently Protests The Notion of Marriage When He Hears of His Friend Claudio’s Intentions
But In Real Life He Was Married To Beatrice Actress, Emma Thompson Actually
And After Much Meddling From Others He Marries Her In The Movie
Benedict ~ Kenneth Branagh ~ 1993
Beatrice ~ Emma Thompson ~ 1993
Conrad ~ Richard Clifford ~ 1993
Dogberry ~ Michael Keaton (L)
Don John ~ Keanu Reeves
Don John ~ By Keanu Reeves
Don John ~ Keanu Reeves
Very Tasty Waistcoat. It Looks Lush. And Keanu Looks Every Inch His Jealous, Evil, Psycho Character As He Smoulders Away Inside of It.
Quality Costumes & Attention To Sartorial Detail Add An Extra Layer of Flavour. The Film Did Not Win The Costume Design BAFTA It Was Nominated For. But Nominations Count.
The Natural Beauty of The Tuscan Landscape Organically Adds A Rich & Generous Feel To This Deliciously Sumptuous Film.
Antonio ~ Brian Blessed
Margaret ~ Imelda Staunton
Ursula ~ Phyllida Law (R)
This ‘Ado’ Was Very Much A Family ‘Do’ As Phyllida Law Is Emma Thompson’s Real Mother And Kenneth Bragnah’s Real Former Mother-In-Law; Respectively Ursula, Beatrice & Benedick.
Verges ~ Ben Elton (R)
Much A Do About Nothing Is A Convoluted Comedic Shakespearean Tale of Two Italian Princes. Two Brothers At War. Good Don. Bad Don. Don Pedro. And Don John. Psychotic Jealously And Family Meddling. Beguiling Women And Belittling Women. Marrying One Minute And Not Marrying The Next. Men Getting Manipulated. And Men Getting Married. Ladies-In-Waiting. And Ladies Lying. And A Lady Called Hero! A Match Up. A Stitch Up. Unwanted Attention. Much Wanted Redemption. And Ultimately, As Ever With Shakespeare, It’s All Much A Do About Nothing!
William Shakespeare’s Original Play ‘Much A Do About Nothing’ Was Written During The Reign of Queen Elizabeth I Between 1598 & 1599, Set In Messina, Sicily, And In & Around The Private Estate of Local Nobleman Leonato, The Father of Defamed Female Protagonist, The Interestingly Named ‘Hero’. And It Was First Performed In 1600.
Shakespeare Loves Convolution. And Innumerable Intellectuals Love To Show or At Least Try To Show Their Intellectual Prowess By Repeatedly Setting Themselves The Self-Inflicted Challenge of De-Constructing His Original Convolution And Reconstructing Thier Own Version of It, In New Re-Imagined Settings. Shakespeare Is Established As One of The Two Top Classic Writers In British Literature. Dickens Being The Other. (And There Are of Scores of Other Classic Writers In Between, But We’re Not Talking About Them Right Now.) Both Bygone Writers Have Had Their Works Re-Written And Adapted Time And Time Again. And Now Re-Mixed Too.
Despite Numerous Re-incarnations of This Play Over The Centuries & Decades Grime Artist And Neuro-Diverse University Lecturer @DebrisStevenson Is Now The First ‘Much A Do About Nothing’ Re-Mixologist. And All Credit To Her (As Duly Bestowed In Our Preview Interview With Her Last Month). Her Childhood Love of The 1993 Hollywood Movie Inspired Her To Produce The 2023 West End Theatre Production Some Thirty Years Later (She Tells Us She Has Watched It Innumberable Times During The Decades In Between).
Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Much Ado’ Was A First Too, Being The First Cinematic Version With Sound. And It Was A Modern Cinematic Beauty And The Cast Had Exceptional Chemistry #kennethbranagh (There Was A Silent Movie In 1913 And Branagh’s Version Came Along 80 Years Later.) He Made Shakespeare Sparkly, Sexy And Seriously Watchable (In No Small Part Thanks To The Casting of Movie Golden Boy & Firmly Established 90s Love God, African-American, Denzel Washington, As The Good Guy, Don Pedro. He Had Genuine Chemistry With The Irishman (Who Directed The Film As Well As Starred In It, As Benedick) And Chemistry With Everybody Else Too. Subsequently Anyone Even Thinking About Trying To Better This Film Would Have A Nigh Impossible Job On Their Hands. It’s The Gold Standard. And It’s Exceptional!
But Frankly, Ordinarily, Give Us A Good Old Dickens Any Day! Compared To Shakespeare He Cuts Straight To The Chase, Addresses Issues of Greed, Class, And Social Disparity, And Gets To The Point Without All The Pomp, Unnecessary Ceremony And Often Associated Elitism And Sanctimony.
That Said, Like Him or Loathe Him, Shakespeare Is Undeniably An Enduring Big Box Office Draw Be It In Film or Theatre, 1993 or 2023, Classic or Contemporary. And So There We Were At The Duke of York Theatre, In London’s WestEnd On Press Night Further To Our Aforementioned Interview With The Producer The Month Before About Her Inspiring Educational Journey. And Also Further To Denzel’s Post On February 5th 2023 @denzelwashingtonofficial Marking The Thirty Year Cinematic Milestone. Similarly This Subsequent Production of Much A Do About Nothing Is One of A Number of Plays Produced By NYT Rep Company As Part of Their Own Ten Year Anniversary. So The Timing Chimes Well.
Stevenson’s Latest Production Runs In The Westend’s Duke of York Theatre From Tuesday February 7 2023 ~ Friday February 10 2023 And If There Is Any Note of Disappointment It Is of Course That This Run Is Too Short. If It Was On Longer We Would Definitely Returned To See It Again. It Is Worth It Another Watch.
The Good News Is It Is Due To Be Added To It’s Streaming Platform Within The Education Section In The Near Future. So Watch This Space www.nyt.org.uk/schools/schools-education
Hollywood Movie 1993: Good Don! Bad Don! Good Don, Don Pedro (Denzel Washington), Right. Bad Don, Don John (Keanu Reeves), Left.
There Are So Many Layers To Much Ado About Nothing & Coupledom Is Just One of Them. Brothers Don Pedro & Don John (Good & Bad Respectively) Claudio & Hero (On & Off), Beatrice & Benedick (One Minute Hostile & One Minute Hot). To Name But A Few.
Consumed With Jealously & An Identity Crisis About His Illegitimate Status Compared To His Half Brother’s, Don John Is Psychopathic And Duplicitously Seeks To Destroy His Brother’s Happiness, Even If Vicariously Through One of His Friends. In This State of Mind He Hatches A Simple But Cunning Plan.
It Is Immediately Successful As Don John Has Manipulated Claudio Into Watching This Spectacle From Down Below. Yet Hero Is Not Even In The Vicinity As Don John Vicariously Steals Her Virginity & Her Reputation With It.
Considering The Original Play Was Written Over 400 Years Ago This Modern Remix Humourously Raises Many Modern Day Issues. From In An Era of Social Commuication By Hand-Written, Hand-Delivered, Horse-Ridden Messaging, When Access or Exit To The Great & The Good Was Protected & Patrolled By A Simple System Of Gatekeepers & Watchmen, The Question Is, In The Technological, Digital, Seemingly More Sophisticated Age Has Much Really Changed In Terms of Messaging, Mixed Messaging, Meddling, Malice And Interference?
Indeed If Anything The Anonymity Afforded To ‘Bad Actors’ (of The Digital Kind) Has Lead To The Existence And Proliteration of Extra Meddling And Malice By Trolls And Keyboard Cowards (People Who Display Levels of Wickedness They Would Not Have The Courage, Audacity, or Longevity To Display In Real Life – As Physical Proximity Would Render Them Liable To Be Knocked Out).
In This Modern Re-Mix Bad Don Don John Is Hounded By Modern Day Trolls. And In That Sense Not Only Is He A Vilan But Also A Victim. It’s Something of A Twist On The Twisted And Presents A Moral Dilemma.
And There’s The Question of Whether Powerful Men Still Have The Inclination And Capability To Destroy Womens Reputations or Status At Will Today – Using New or Old Fashioned Ways. Consider For Instance The 2022 Re-Trumplican Male Dominated Supreme Court Reversal of The Womens Rights Case of Roe – v – Wade.
And Generally Speaking, Over 400 Years On Do People Still Love Interferring In Other People’s Lives For Good or For Bad Via All Manner of Manipulations? And If So, How Do We Stop It? And Do Some of Us Even Really Want To, Given The Popularity of Contrived Reality TV And Those Who Are Prepared To Make It And Take Part In It?
There Is Much To Admire In This New West End Version of
‘Much A Do About Nothing’
Produced & Directed In The Post #Me Too & Wienstein Era
The Physicality On Stage Between The Whole NYT Rep Company Cast Was Notably Smooth, Comfortable And Dynamic. And Between Oliva Ng As George Seacole And Daniel Cawley As Benedick It Was Especially Impressive
He Lifted Her Up And Hid Behind Her Small Frame, Moving Guardedly Across The Stage From One Side To The Other (All Part of The Plays Inherent Ducking And Diving, Scheming And Weaving, Positioning & Pretending) Whilst Showcasing Ease And Grace From Both of Them. The Technicality And Confidence of Movement Seemed So High That No Doubt It Required Much Discipline And Training. In Any Event It Was Unique And Fascinating.
At One Point Ng Moves Across The Stage With Similar Skill, But This Time Solo And Whilst Lying On The Floor, Holding A Camera, Like A Superhero On A Mission With The Reality TV Production Team Desperate To Stay Out of Camera Shot, During A Critical Filming Moment Within The Entangled Love Island-Esque Plot. It Was Fascinating To Watch. And Unlike Anything We’d Seen Before. It Was Simple But Very Original And Phenomenal. And One of The Things We Found Most Memorable.
Another Engaging Element of Cast’s Physicality Was Its Variety, Which Added To A Sense of Greater Thespian Diversity, And Thus Reality, As It Represents The World We Live In. Tall, Short, Thin, Fuller Figured, Dark Skin, Light Skin, Black And White. Different Geographical Origins. Paradoxically The Variety Added Greater Relatability As It Indicates Inclusivity And Welcoming. Thus Making The Theatre Experience More Appealing.
Amazingly Zoe Hannah Ankra As Friar – Come Reality TV Host – Is So Convincing That She Brought To Mind The Former Big Brother Host @Davina McCall With Her Similar Attitude, Mannerisms And Eagerness For Reality TV Melodrama. A Big Achievement As Both Ladies Are Different Races, Ages & Generations.
Closer Inspection of The Digital Programme Reveals Stevenson Was Not Only Producer/Re-Mixologist But Also Movement Director. And She Worked With Both An Intimacy Coach And Fight Director As Well @yaritdor. This Highlights The Power & Importance of Such Roles In Making A Positive Difference. Not Only To The Comfortabliliy of The Cast, But Also The Comfortability of The Audience, And Ultimately The Overall Quality of The Production. We Were Able To Pick Up On The Company’s Genuine Closeness And A New Thespian Freedom Is Released Because of It Which Naturally Provides An Extra Positive Energy of Its Own.
This Is A Prime Example of The Togetherness That Emanated From This Repertory Team, Which Could Only Be So Successful With The Genuine Willingness & Ability of These Young Actors To Take Direction. And That Has Alot To Do With The Atmosphere Clearly Created Within The Production Enviroment @DebrisStevenson @josiedaxter.com
The Modern Music And Dance Moves Made People Want To Vibe & Groove. Dry, Crusty, Stuffy, As Can Sometimes Be The Case With Shakespeare Was Out The Window. And Amen To That! The Musical Composer Was Mwen
Cawley’s Unique Quality & Control of Voice With Its Scottish Lilt Also Added Auditory Pleasure In Amongst The Convolution of A Shakespearean Play Set In The Modern Era, In The Middle of London, On A West End Stage, In The Middle of A Fake Reality TV Show, In His Main Role As Benedick. Given The General Diversity of The Cast And The Obvious, Youthful Joy They All Appeared To Share In Being On Stage Together It Too Had An Energy of It’s Own With Its Distinct Warm Scottish Undertones.
One of The Reasons He Stood Out Obviously Had Much To Do With His Own Talent And His Ability To Take Direction But Also Because His Own Benedick Is Played Quite Humble And So When He Does Pipe Up He’s Full of Sincere Passion. And In Addtion To A Movement And Intimacy Director There Was Also A Voice Coach To Help Him And The Rest of The Cast In The Form of Marcia Carr
Scotland’s (Late) Sean Connery Brought A Similar Quality To His James Bond (Often Stated As The Favourite of Them All) And of Course Cawley Is Now Also In The Company of Fellow Scotsman David Tennant Who, To Put It Mildly, Is Also Very Offay With Shakespeare. All of Which Is To Say Daniel Cawley’s Accent, Ennunication, And Dialect Was One of The Best Things About This Version of The Play And We Look Forward To Seeing & Hearing Him On Stage Again Some Time In The Future. Enuciation! Enuciation! Enuciation! @DavidTennant Podcast
Isolde Fenton (Beatrice) & Daniel Cawley (Benedick) Talk It Out On Reality TV On Stage In London’s WestEnd At The Duke of York Theatre
The Costume Department Left Alot To Be Desired Sadly As A Number of The Outfits Appeared To Be Rather Shambolic, Mis-matched, And Not Particualarly Well Presented or Coordinated. This With The Exception of A Few Characters Including The Smart Looking Jessica Enemokwul’s Leonato As A TV Executive, Olivia Ng As George Seacole And Their Fellow TV Colleague Tomas Azocar-Nevin As The Story Producer Conrad. Tilly Magwaza Looked Bright & Breezy In A Strappy Little Peach Number Which Seemed To Suit Her Personality And Indeed Let Claudio Know He’d Be Lucky To Have Her. But The Clunky 1980s Purse-Belt Style Love Heart Belts Didn’t Do Anyone Any Favours In The Fashion Stakes.
Zoe Hannah Ankrah’s Friar Angel Wings & Crown Were Divinely Over The Top And Reflective of The Sometimes Camp Contrivances of Certain Sections of Modern Day Television And Added A Welcome Touch of Ocassion & Glamour.
The Way Hero’s Dress Blends In With The Floral Set During Her Moment of Crisis Is An Unexpected Great Fashion Feat Which Also Added A Style Reprieve. Furthermore Whilst She Blended In Her Shakespearean Acting Shone Out. Prize For Best Dressed Character Is Well Coordinated Lady-In-Waiting Margaret In Strapy Dress & Strapy Shoes (Left Hand Column Below In The Production Promo).
The 1993 Movie Which Helped Inspire This Current Production Highlights The Fact That There Is Much To Be Said For The Quality & Coordination of Costumes In Productions (Indeed It Was Nominated For A Costume Design BAFTA).
Disapproval of The Apparel of Youth Is The Long Established Business of Elders And So It May Just Be A Matter of Preference For Traditional Garb Over Some Modern Wardrobes With Curiously Mixed & Unmatched Clothes.
From Generational Clothes To Fewer Clothes; 1993’s ‘Much Ado’ Muscle Man Was Keanu Reeves As Don John. 2023 It’s Dalumuzi Mayo As Borachio (Truly Lovely Shirt! Also Shirtless Above ~ 5th Pic Right Hand Column).
Whilst The Concept of Love Island Is Central To This Production It Is An Amalgam Of Various Reality TV Elements And The Big Brother Diary Room Is Now A Therapy Room Which Is Perhaps Partial Acknowledgment of The Fact That The Importance of Psychological Assessment Prior To Taking Part In Such Shows, And Subsequently Throughout And Afterwards Was Brought To The Fore Following A Number of Heartbreaking And Shocking Suicides Related To The Jeremy Kyle Show (Which Subsequently Halted Its Production). Sadly That Did Not Stop Other Suicides Happening On Other Reality TV Shows Since Then. But In An Age of Greater Mental Health Awareness The Availability of Therapeutic Support Is All Important And The Production Did Well To Reflect That. www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/
When The NTY Stream Becomes Available (As Mentioned Above) You Can Watch It For Yourselves, Before or After The Original Film (Available On YouTube), From The Comfort of Your Homes, Classes or Schools As Both Productions Actually Make Shakespeare Fun. Not Always Easily Done! At The End of This Triumphant Performance The Cast Were Deservedly Given A Heartfelt Stand Ovation.
Shakespeare Has Predominately Been The Preserve of A Stuffy Literary Elite, But Thankfully Branagh Helped Break That Down A Lot In 1993. And Now, Progressing Forward Even More, The Skill of Stevenson’s Re-Mixing, Daxter’s Direction, And The High Quality of This Year’s NYT Rep Company’s Acting Have All Combined To Take This Shakespearean Play To The Streets (Theatrical Street Food If You Will) Whilst Retaining The Essence of This Early Elizabethan, Classic, Crazy Tale. It Means For The Masses Theatre Is Increasingly More Accessible. Especially As Theatre Tickets Were Generously Priced At £10.00. Education And Cultural Engagement Can Enrich Society So This Is Arguably Good For Social Development, Broader Discussion And Cultural Comment.
In Modern Parlance This Play Addresses The Issues of Fake News, Misogyny, Mis-Information, Dis-Information, Defamation, Espionage, Gate-Keepers, Leakers, Lawyers, Whistle-Blowers And Peace Makers. And It Inevitably Raises The Question Why Do Those Issues Translate Time And Time Again, From Messina, To Tuscany To Love Island And Reality TV?
Possibly Because At The Heart of This Story Is Beauty, Jealousy, Love, Hate, Family Drama, Double-Standards, Self-Denial, Self-Preservation, Manipulation, Sex Scandals, Frailty, Resilience, Passion, Compassion, Redemption, And Human Evolution.All Powerful Elements of Human Nature Which Humans Either Runaway From or Run Towards And Therefore About Which They Are Forever Hungry To Learn More, In The Name of Survival!Thus Ultimately, Despite ‘The Much A Do’ It’s Really Rather Simple. Something Which Dickens Would Illustrate, Centuries Later. And In A Fashion Much Quicker & Simpler!
Josie Daxter & Debris Stevenson
Director & Re-Mixologist
(West End Play 2023)
The Illustrated Stratford Shakespeare
Proud Possession of TheOrator.Press (TO.P) Purchased From A Bookshop Within A Trendy Weekend Market Over A Decade Ago At A Bargin Price By The Editor Before The Online Magazine Was Even Conceived.
She Knows Quality When She Sees It! Let’s Just Say With Shakespeare It’s A Love Hate Relationship.
Reality TV Love Island Style, On Location In A Customised TV Studio
Don Pedro (Baseball Cap) Behind Benedick (Pink Shirt) With Claudio (Blue & Yellow Shirt & Shorts) To His Left. Balthazar (Jeans), Borachio (Burgundy Shorts). Friar (TV Host ~ Golden Dress), Beatrice (Blue), And Hero (Peach).
Claudio Is Painfully Played In This Play
Claudio ~ Jez Davess-Humphrey
(WestEnd Theatre 2023)
Borachio ~ Dalumuzi Mayo, 2023
Don Pedro ~ Jack D’Arcy ~ 2023
Leonato ~ Jessica Enemokwu ~ TV Exec
Thuliswas (Tilly) Magwaza
Slanderous Tradegy Strikes For Hero!
Musical Composer Mwen ~ 2023
Balthazar ~ Jerome Scott ~ 2023
Benedict ~ Daniel Cawley ~ 2023
Beatrice ~ Isolde Fenton
Conrade ~ Tomas Azocar-Nevin ~ Story Producer
Dogberry ~ Eleanor Booth
Don John ~ Jasmine Ricketts
Friar ~ Zoe Hannah Ankra
George Seacole ~ Oliva Ng (L)
Margaret ~ Nathaly Sabino
Ursula ~ Chloe Cooper
Verges ~ Kira Golightly
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