Mercury Theatre sets garrison Much Ado About Nothing in Colchester

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The battle of the sexes hots up in a saucy new production of Shakespeare’s blistering romantic comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, that is set in a modern-day garrison town.

And to make audiences feel right at home it is set to be staged in England’s oldest garrison town, Colchester, where it will be performed in the town’s Mercury Theatre as part of its Made In Colchester season.

The war is over. The boys are coming home, and the girls can’t wait for a summer of games to begin.

The most talked-about young solider, Claudio, falls instantly for innocent and beautiful Hero (the daughter of his Garrison commander). Brilliant Beatrice and ladies’ man Benedick, pick up where they left off – warring with wit and words.

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As the soldiers return to civilian life, everyone seems to want to scheme – friends and enemies alike. Can Beatrice and Benedick be fooled into falling in love with one another? Can everyone’s favourite “perfect” couple – Claudio and Hero – be made to doubt their love and be taken down a peg or two?

And what is true love, anyway? Is all the romance and heartache just much ado about nothing?

Jason Langley (War Horse, Enron) will be Benedick opposite Danielle Flett as the feisty Beatrice. Danielle’s credits include Doctor Faustus (Duke of Yorks), Hatched ‘n’ Dispatched (The Park Theatre) and Noises Off (The Old Vic UK tour).

Perfect couple Claudio and Hero will be played by Peter Bray and Robyn Cara. Peter most recently played Paris at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh in their production of The Iliad. His other theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet (Shakespeare’s Globe and world tour) and Emil & The Detectives (National Theatre). Robyn makes her professional stage debut.

Polly Lister, UK Theatre Award winner for her role as Beverley in Abigail’s Party is the villainous Don John – traditionally a male role.

Also cast are: Paul Ridley, Karl Haynes, Kirsty J Curtis, Robert Fitch and Chris Charles. The production is directed by Pia Furtado.

Pia said: “This production celebrates all the questions surrounding gender politics and role-play within Essex now.

“Set in a garrison town – a Messina inspired by Colchester – the play starts with soldiers returning home from their most recent military action. The backdrop of the army also allows us to take more of a look at army culture, expectations and the impact on the gender politics of the play. It will be riotous fun!”

Much Ado About Nothing runs at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, from September 30-October 15.

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