Witty and wonderful, Sheffield Theatres and Ramps on the Moon productions Much Ado About Nothing is an absolute triumph in accessible storytelling. 

Much Ado is probably Shakespeare’s most famous Rom-Com. Frenemies Benedick and Beatrice trade barbs as their friends Claudio and Hero fall in love. This overly invested friendship group then plots to get B and B together. There’s a fake death (standard Shakespeare) and villainous brother (or sister as in this production) and a happy ever after. It’s good fun, sweet and full of wit.  

This production got off to a somewhat slow start. An open stage, with a static set; a log cabin towards the rear, trees either side and benches at the front. Satisfyingly symmetrical. The actors slowly enter the cabin creating the atmosphere of a buzzing party inside, visible through glass sliding doors. It is an interesting choice, giving the audience time to settle whilst group dynamics are established, but it seems to take a while. Eventually the audience just chatted amongst themselves, mostly about how long this was taking to get going. It was tedious. However, once the cabin doors were opened, so did the atmosphere. Characters moved forward to describe their costumes and the sign associated with them (accessibility being such a key consideration of this production) and we were off! I can see how setting us up as voyeur then inviting us into the action was somewhat impactful, it just took far too long. 

Peter McKintosh’s costumes were simple but effective. With characters mostly wearing block colours, making them easily recognisable, as well as giving a notion of their personality. This production really focuses on visual storytelling, already richly present in Shakespeare’s script. 

Credit- Johan Persson

I am writing this as a non-disabled theatre goer with no access needs but this felt like the most accessible production I have ever experienced. The integration of BSL and Audio description was seamless and an absolute complement to the story. At every point the use of BSL in particular, really felt like it added to the storytelling. The inclusive cast of deaf, neurodiverse, disabled and non-disabled performers and creatives have created something truly special. Perfectly honouring and telling Shakespeare’s story in a way that was completely their own. And I loved it! 

This production has an incredibly strong cast. Daneka Etchells and Guy Rhys as Beatrice and Benedick are stunning. Their relationship is so believable in its tension and tenderness. Their scenes are captivating and at times incredibly moving. Etchells’ energy and intensity is complimented by Rhys stoic calm. The audience was roaring with laughter as the pure wit of Shakespeare’s most entertaining duo was delivered with impeccable timing. I believed every line. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The production has a screen with the script on stage, integrated BSL and audio description. 

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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