Shakespeare’s familiar characters were brought to life once again in this rustic adaptation by the talented Wild Donkey Theatre Company. The cast was surprisingly small which resulted in many actors and actresses playing more than one part. However, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the play and proved once again that quality is often more important than quantity. Some of the casting decisions were also daring, for example; a woman as the infamous villain Don John.
Naomi Marsden in the role of Beatrice definitely stole the show.
On the whole the acting was good but Naomi Marsden in the role of Beatrice definitely stole the show. Every actress who plays the fiery heroine has their own take on Beatrice’s character and Marsden was no different. Although Marsden kept to the traditional ‘intelligent diva’ angle, her version of Beatrice sang strangely poignant acapella jazz numbers at the beginning and during set changes. It was an interesting move and one which succeeded in stirring my curiosity.
When I realised the play had been cut down to a performance time of just one hour I was slightly concerned, but I had hoped to be pleasantly surprised by the concise nature of the production. However, this was not the case. In general, there are scenes in almost every Shakespeare play which, in my opinion, are begging to be cut. Nevertheless, there is a happy medium and I am of the opinion that Wild Donkey went a bit too far. I lost count of the number of times I felt as if I had fallen asleep and woken up two, three or four scenes later.
For this reason I found it difficult to follow some of the more subtle plotlines, even though I am reasonably familiar with the story. The main characters falling in love in less than fifteen minutes is expected with any of Shakespeare’s creations, but the play ended without fully explaining the motives for many of the characters actions - especially Don John’s.
It turns out that when it comes to Wild Donkey the clue is in the name - their adaptation, although rough around the edges, is still a joy to behold. Definitely a must see for all Shakespeare buffs and for anyone in the mood for something fluffy and light hearted.