much ado tnOn 11th Feburary, UV (Year 11) enjoyed a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Much Ado About Nothing in the Royal Shakespere Theatre. Three girls, Deborah, Tashy and Hannah give us their reviews of the play and consider the themes covered in the production.


'Much Ado About Nothing is a rom-com play written by William Shakespeare in the Elizabethan Era. It is set in an Italian City called Messina, however, it mirrors the structure of Britain at the time. The play has very distinct themes that run throughout: love, honour and reputation. As well as this, the play is also filled with lots of humour - without this, it wouldn’t be a comedic play!

On the 11th February 2022, the UV were very fortunate to see the famous play Much Ado About Nothing in the magnificent Royal Shakespeare Theatre. 

It was an amazing night, filled with laughter and excitement - a wonderful opportunity for the UV. The play, however, was very different to those we had previously  seen, featuring Afrofuturism as the main theme for the production, which made it unique.

What is Afrofuturism, you might ask? Afrofuturism is all about evaluating the past, present and future, and imagining a world that encourages better conditions for black people through literature, music, technology, and arts. In Afrofuturism, the world has a structure that doesn’t oppress Black communities. A famous example of Afrofuturism is Black Panther, a film that embraces Black culture to the fullest. However, this didn’t stop the play from being set in Messina; the only thing that had really changed was that it was influenced by Afrofuturism.

Another thing that made the play astounding was the stagecraft. Each element in the production came together to create astonishing characters and a beautiful atmosphere to match the genre of the play. The costumes were intricately designed by a woman named Melissa Simon-Hartman, owner of the Simon-Hartman boutique in London. The costumes were designed to bring together both African and European culture to show the unity between the two opposite cultures, as well as to celebrate the amazing diversity that exists in the UK today. Gold was a prominent feature on many of the costumes, to highlight its significance in African culture as a symbol of power and authority.

The lighting design was by Azusa Ono, and lighting was used throughout the play to amazing effect. This was due to the way in which the lighting was controlled; at times where a more solemn atmosphere was to be portrayed, lighting was dimmed to create this mood and darker colours were mostly used in scenes where this needed to occur. An example of this was the funeral scene of Hero, where they artfully used small bulbs held by each actor to create a sense of mourning.

In contrast, when a joyous atmosphere was needed, the lighting was brighter. An example of this was the party scene, at which we saw the lights at their brightest to exhibit the fun the characters were having. In between scenes, the use of flashing lights immersed the audience into the new setting on the stage, creating suspense and anticipation between each act.

The music used in the play was inspired by African culture, linking into the idea of Afrofuturism in the play. Most of the songs were sung in both Yoruba and English, with Yoruba being one of the native languages in Nigeria. These songs featured the most in the party scene, in which they expressed the fun the characters were having with the use of brass instruments, guitars and vocalists. All these features put together contributed to creating the perfect atmosphere for each scene, as well as portraying the emotion equally felt by each character.

All in all, the trip really helped the UV to understand the play in more detail, while at the same time allowing them to have fun and enjoy and explore the place in which Shakespeare was born. It gave us a more in-depth knowledge of the glorious playwright known as Shakespeare, and how he manipulated not only the stage, but each character to create a play that is still loved by many today.' 


'Last Friday, my year travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon to watch the Royal Shakespeare’s Company production of Much Ado About Nothing, one of the texts we are currently studying for our GCSEs. This was the third version of Much Ado I had watched and, in my opinion, neither of the other versions connected to the themes, content and true meaning of the play in the enthralling way that this production achieved.

I was truly blown away, firstly by the incredible set design which clearly showed that this play would be widely divergent from the traditional version that is so commonly performed. The production drew on Afrofuturism in terms of the costumes and the set, which created an astonishingly vivid visual image for the audience. The essence of the play was perfectly captured with a feisty Beatrice, haughty Benedick and a very demure Hero. I thought that the company’s choice to cast Don Pedro as a female character was largely successful and it certainly offered the audience a different perspective on the play and scenes which are traditionally male dominated now had a very different ambience.

The play’s traditional themes and ideas were still fantastically incorporated and indeed certain scenes, such as those with the watchmen which may traditionally drag on, were light, comical and engaged the audience completely. The dynamic between the actors playing Beatrice and Benedick was amazing as the two bounced off each other’s witty comments with ease. In addition to all this, the modern R+B music used in the play created an upbeat atmosphere with an extremely lively feeling and the stark contrast between such modern music and Shakespearean language was captivating.'


'With Stratford-Upon-Avon being the birthplace of Shakespeare, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was the perfect place for us to fully immerse ourselves in his lifestyle as we watched the futuristic re-enactment of the incredibly well-known Much Ado About Nothing. Among the cast, the actors had a wide range of skills: each actor was perfectly suited to the character they played, and as soon as they were on stage it was as though the personality of the character became an overwhelming part of them.

Personally, the performances which impressed me the most were those of Beatrice, the leading female role, Borachio, the villain’s subordinate, and Don Pedro, the Prince of Aragon. Beatrice, who was played by Akiya Henry, brought an intense layer of humour to the play, leaving the audience in fits of laughter due to her wit, expressions, and overall acting skills, especially within her conversations with or regarding Benedick, who she referred to as ‘Signor Montanto’. Each actor communicated with the others in a way which allowed either comedy or suspense, depending on the scene and characters present, causing us to be fully engaged with every part of the play. Overall, the cast, alongside the highly talented dancers and musicians, allowed for the play to truly be brought to life, with a retelling which both embodied Shakespeare and represented the modern world.'