Shooting Stars presentation of Much Ado About Nothing is given a modern and youthful interpretation. The men are soldiers from Afghanistan and there is a contemporary soundtrack to uplift the proceedings. Added to this comes a beach party with a dance-off to impress the up-to-date setting.
The play starts off on a high note with a burst of energy and a good pace, however the characters are hard to distinguish and it may be the play more than the direction that falters here. There are some good performances from Michael Totton who makes a likeable Benedick and Peter Steele who stands out as a great comic talent with his Verger. Joe Sargent as Claudio has an androgynous Jared Leto quality about him and a strong voice for his frame. Tabitha Becker Khan as Beatrice provides a clear voice not only in her work but in expressing the story as well. Lewis Richardson has a commanding presence on stage and gives a worthy Borrachio. Hayley Emma Otway has a lovely quality and cheerful manner as Ursula.
Where the first half of the play has thrust the second dips noticeably with long pauses that are unwarranted, only take a pause on the line when you have earned it is the general rule which tends to work.
It feels as though this production has had a quick turnaround in its rehearsal period, and whilst there is merit to the show, sadly there seems to be something that is lacking. At times it felt that there was little connection to what the actors were saying impeding the plot, which is already quite thin on the ground, surprisingly for Shakespeare.
Shooting Stars makes a noble attempt and its focus to a younger audience stands in its favour with much that can be built upon to make Shakespeare work for that audience. Given more time a stronger and deeper production could be realised.