Mark Rylance continues an innovation made last year with an all-female production of Much Ado about Nothing at the Globe. And as Barry Norman never said, 'Why not?'
This play, most famous for the witty sparring between would-be lovers Benedick and Beatrice, packs in most of Shakespeare's favourite devices, such as masked identity, overheard conversations and an apparent resurrection from the dead.
For my money, I would have preferred to see Josie Lawrence, who plays Benedick, cast as Beatrice, since she has the superior one-liners. The crowd enjoyed Sarah Woodward's idiot 'policeman' Dogberry and Penelope Beaumont is quite brilliant in her portrayal of heartbroken father Leonato. A play of laughter and of sorrow, it would be wrong to class Much Ado as a comedy – instead it takes its audience on an Elizabethan roller-coaster, with a poignant and reflective last scene at the end of the ride.