Bell Shakespeare make Much Ado About Nothing much ado about something

Mandy Bishop (left) in Much Ado About Nothing.
Mandy Bishop (left) in Much Ado About Nothing.

THERE have been numerous contemporised productions of William Shakespeare’s plays.

Bell Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing went one step further and took onboard the news of the day about women being found victims of violent crime in parks.

“The entire creative crew and cast didn’t feel comfortable the way a young man could slander a young woman and then receive her hand in marriage at the end of the play,” actor Mandy Bishop said.

“We had a discussion on how to address that and I think director James Evans has come up with something very beautiful.

“It’s not only about gender equality but the treatment of violence towards women. We wanted to look at where that starts.

“Who is educating these young men and women, who is looking after them or not looking after them, or what have they experienced that’s so traumatic? What has society got to answer for in terms of how we raise our young?

“It strikes a really lovely balance and I don’t want to give away the end of the play because I think it’s definitely something worth seeing.”

Mandy Bishop (right) in Much Ado About Nothing.

A comedy following the pursuit of love between couples Claudio and Hero, and Beatrice and Benedick, is one of Shakespeare’s easiest works to follow.

“That’s because it’s written largely in prose whereas most of the other plays are written in verse, which is the iambic pentameter situation,” WAAPA graduate Bishop said.

“There are three plots and James has edited the play to make it easier for audiences. It zooms along at two hours and 15 minutes including interval.

“He’s nipped and tucked from all the right places.”

Bishop, who for the past four years has divided her time between Sydney and New York, plays two male characters, messenger Balthasar and constable Dogberry.

“We have a cast of five women and five men which is wonderful because Shakespeare is quite heavy on his male characters and women were played by men,” she said.

“This is not a gender flip production, it’s just a gender parity production, which is a lovely line to draw.”

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THE ESSENTIALS

What: Much Ado About Nothing

Where: Heath Ledger Theatre

When: August 7 to 10

Tickets: www.ptt.wa.gov.au