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The original Rom Com

Technically the main story of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is the relationship between Claudio and Hero.

Much ado about nothing, Northern Stage

Technically the main story of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is the relationship between Claudio and Hero.

The impending marriage ruined by jealousy and the resulting salvation.

But it is Shakespeare's sub-plot of Beatrice and Benedick that really make this comedy - especially when you have Tamsin Greig.

Greig is well-known for her part in the award-winning comedy Green Wing, on Channel Four, and she brings all her skill and talent with her to the stage for the feisty, almost neurotic Beatrice, whose acid tongue is more than a match for potential suitor Benedick.

But her friends conspire against her - as do Benedick's friends him - making each believe the other is in love with them. They're just too proud to say it.

And so it is that Shakespeare conceives perhaps one of the earliest forms of the genre more commonly known as the Rom Com, or romantic comedy. Except these days, they usually feature Hugh Grant, have a benign script penned by Richard Curtis and a soundtrack by James Blunt.

Shakespeare, however, injected much darker elements. The Juliet-like fake death of Hero, the double-crossing of matchmaker Don Pedro's half-brother. The demand from Beatrice for Benedick to kill his friend Claudio for turning his back on Hero at the alter.

As ever with the Bard, the dialogue is crisp, funny and often hard to follow, but not so much as to lose the audience, a lot of which was made up of young people.

The set at the revamped Northern Stage was fantastic. A 1950s Cuba, pre-Fidel Castro, with music and dancing to match.

The acting throughout was top notch. Joseph Millson as Benedick, Adam Rayner as Claudio and Patrick Robinson as Don Pedro.

Morven Christie was equally as good as Hero while Bette Bourne played Dogberry like Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean, if not a touch camper.

Much Ado About Nothing announces the RSC's new season in Newcastle and if King John, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest are half as good, it will be a fine season indeed. And who'd have thought you'd say that in the Toon this year.

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