Last night, after over three years of meaning to get round to it, I finally managed to see a performance at the Globe. At times, during Much Ado About Nothing, admittedly not one of my favourites, I was reminded that the comedies are–puts on English student hat, pretends to be in tutorial (wonders why no one is saying anything…)–er, like, a bit rubbish, aren’t they? You could argue that the same ridiculous plot devices occur in both the comedies and the tragedies (there’s people falling in and out of love at the drop of a hat, then jumping to conclusions on the basis of the flimsiest of evidence, and you can always rely on there being a friar somewhere along the line popping up to suggest that the best way to solve all the problems is if someone pretends to be dead), but it’s somehow more acceptable when it isn’t followed by a ludicrously contrived resolution in which everyone ends up happily married, and instead concludes with blood, gore, and entire families dead.
My inherent distrust of the genre aside, the performance was excellent, although I was very disappointed with the audience, which featured a few too many examples of that most cringeworthy breach of unwritten Shakespeare-viewing etiquette–people laughing at the jokes. Ok, I’ll let you off with the visual slapstick, but no one’s fooled that you’re laughing at that cunning play on the word “shrewdly” for any reason other than to let everyone know how clever you are for having understood it. It’s not big or clever, and I don’t care what you say, nothing that Dogberry the constable says is even remotely funny. Oh, and if the group of Italian tourists to my right who spent the whole of the first act translating the play to each other in a very audible non-whisper would like to go and do that somewhere else, that’d be great.
Gripes aside, it was great. I might follow this up by trying to see Measure for Measure at the end of next month. Anybody interested?