Saturday, September 30

Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare North Playhouse

So, for those that do not know what Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing (and many do ask!) the story is a comedic play by William Shakespeare about misunderstandings, love and deception. Benedick, Claudio and Don Pedro arrive at Leonato’s house in Messina. Beatrice and Benedick bicker with each other and Claudio, a soldier, falls in love with Leonato’s daughter, Hero.

Don John, who is Don Pedro’s evil half-brother, tricks Claudio into believing that he has seen Hero being unfaithful. Meanwhile, Don Pedro and others plot to bring Benedick and Beatrice together. Claudio accuses Hero of infidelity and refuses to marry her. Leonato is persuaded to pretend that she is dead.

Hero’s innocence is proven, and Claudio repents. He agrees to accept Antonio’s daughter in marriage, and she turns out to be Hero after all! The trick to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love succeeds and he proposes to her at the end of the play.

So, what is the point of going to see this play now? (I hear you ask) well for a lot of reasons, predominately because the national touring Shakespearean group ‘The Handlebards’ put such an amazing spin to every play they create. Their unique, irreverent, charming and hilarious slant on each tale, relentless costume changes, comic injections and genius character swops, is an absolute must to watch.

I have seen this touring group several times at this wonderful theatre, but this is the first time I have seen them inside and not in the Ken Dodd gardens (typically, whilst we have a heatwave!) but the ‘globe’ stage was cut in half by an Italian villa façade that was used tirelessly as the quartet hid and emerged in different guises. Yes, a quartet., the play as you have read has six characters – so this is where the fun begins. 

The “Handlebards”, as is their custom, included punters from the audience and both George and Holly played their parts enthusiastically and with joy. The audience howled with laughter at ever scene, at every costume change, ever time the cast lost themselves and broke into laughter and as they left the theatre smiling, the words “fantastic”, “amazing” “so funny” wee left piercing the air.

If you want a high-rate evening of fun and laughter this will be the show for you. If you an avid Stratford goer and want to see a classic play done differently – give this a try! This is an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of a classical play.

Much Ado about nothing is showing from 15th – 17th June. Tickets from

Reviewer: Jan Mellor

Reviewed: 14th June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.