Bard at the Box Office

Shakespeare in the 21st Century

Doctor Who and “Much Ado About Nothing”

     This is a post that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. David Tennant made a great tenth Doctor, but he has also done some wonderful Shakespearean work, including starring as Bendick in Much Ado About Nothing. What is even more interesting and nerd-happiness inducing, is that he stars opposite Catherine Tate as Beatrice.Tate also played Donna Noble, his companion on Doctor Who. Tennant won an award for this performance, the BroadwayWorld UK Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play. Watching the entirety of his performance, it is easy to see why.

 This version is set in the 1980’s or 90’s, given the costumes. There is a great deal of physical comedy, which works excellently. Tennant does a great job of being hungover the night after the costume party, even using props such as a coke can with a crazy straw to imply exactly how drunk he was the night before. Throughout that scene, even when he begins to sober up, he still staggers around and knocks things over, which is how he manages to become covered in white paint while he is listening to Claudio, the Duke, and Leonato discuss Beatrice’s “secret” love for him. I don’t know of many actors who could cover themselves in white paint while eavesdropping, and actually make it both funny and believable.

Tate does an excellent job as well, giving Don Pedro a motive to trick her into falling in love with Benedick. In the play, there is a scene between Beatrice and Don Pedro, when he asks her if she will have him as her husband. Usually, this is played as him joking with her about not getting a husband. However, in this version, it is played straight, with Beatrice thinking that Don Pedro is joking until she sees the look on his face when she turns him down, with the rest of her lines basically being a way to backpedal having insulted the duke. There is a clip of this in the trailer.

After this debacle, Don Pedro acts out of spite, convincing her and Benedick that the other is in love with them by way of setting up situations and conversations where the other parties know Beatrice or Benedick can hear them.

In this version, Beatrice’s eavesdropping scene is just as hilarious as Benedick’s, with her ending up being hooked to a harness that some workmen are using to remodel the house, by which she is constantly moved up and down while Hero and Ursula pretend not to notice. After she is set back down, she does the slightly stereotypical girly thing by jumping up and down and squealing excitedly. She does the same thing when Benedick tells her he loves her after Hero’s failed wedding.

Tennant and Tate have great chemistry in this, more than likely drawing on their experience of acting with each other roughly 5 years before as the Doctor and his companion. Sadly,the only version that can be watched stateside is the digital download version. That said, speaking as someone who actually did pay the $12-ish, it is definitely well worth the money.

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