Much Ado About Nothing Traffic Of The Stage Arts Centre THERE was so much to love about Traffic of The Stage’s production of Much Ado About Nothing but Benedick stole the show in terms of giving one of the most hilarious performances I have witnessed on stage.

The Arts Centre’s main room had almost every seat in the house taken and by the end of the two-hour play I think everybody had laughed or at least given a little giggle.

A dramatic battle scene kicked the play off, with red lighting and morbid music. This was instantly contrasted with the idyllic setting of Messina where soft harp melodies were played in the background as the two main ladies Beatrice, played by Judi Bowker, and Hero, played by Lydia Orange, set the mood of the play.

The on-stage setting included painted pink flowers and pillar arches which were used throughout the play by characters who wished to eavesdrop or just hide from other characters.

From the onset Benedick, played by Harry Meacher, had an extravagant persona, rolling through his lines while lying on a bench or sitting among the audience. But it was after he fell in love with Beatrice that his first class acting really came into play.

He had a range of voices, that mirrored an early Jim Carrey, which he employed to exploit all of the humour within Shakespeare’s lines.

One of my favourite scenes was when Benedick first overheard that Beatrice was in love with him. The three actors, Don Pedro, who was played by Alan Blyton, Claudio, played by Giorgio Galassi and Leonato played by Tim Thomas, really over acted their role of winding-up Benedrick up but it worked excellently.

Harry Meacher, the play’s director, used music throughout to build up tension.

Overall it was a brilliant production and one I’m very glad I caught while it was in Swindon.

– Emma Lidiard