Dir. Jack Elfick, 13th Note, 2nd November
That Much Ado About Murder was focused on an actor brutally murdering the critics responsible for his bad reviews makes my job as reviewer of the play a particularly tricky one. While the idea behind the horror-comedy play was a very creative and inventive one, the performance in Glasgow let its audience down slightly. The tiny space in the Thirteenth Note’s gig venue was partly to blame for limitations in the set’s lighting and a very partial visibility of the stage itself.
Inappropriate performance space aside however, the play needed work in terms of pacing and comic timing. Some scene changes and sections of dialogue felt stunted, and many jokes were lost in the midst of needlessly long Shakespearean monologues and quite passive murder scenes. The attempt to mix a funny dialogue with exceedingly serious gruesome murders created discrepancies in tone and awkward pauses that got in the way of some of the acting. The caricatured characters would have worked extremely well in a play with more self-aware humour and ridicule, but their one-dimensionality jarred slightly with the more serious and naturalistic attempts at creating horror.
Nevertheless, special mention must be made of Katherine Hampton, playing Sonoma, the perpetually drunk critic, and her truly impressive performance. While some of the other characters’ lines were lost in mumbling, she always managed to make herself perfectly understood in spite of the drunken slur in her voice. Her controlled intoxicated gait and mannerisms also worked really well, making me regret how early in the play she met her end.
Overall, Much Ado About Murder was an very good idea poorly executed. Yet the Shakespeare Society’s encouragement of new writing and openness to original ideas is one that should definitely be supported.