Editor’s Note: The following is a guest theatre review from Clare Ollerhead who had the opportunity to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate live on Stage in Much Ado About Nothing in London.
The David Tennant and Catherine Tate partnership began in a 2006 episode of Doctor Who; he was the tenth Doctor, she was Donna Noble, his feisty yet vulnerable companion who divided fan opinion when she returned for a full season in 2008. Love her or hate though- and, for the record, I am firmly in the love camp- there was no denying that they were a team that worked.
As actors, they generated an energy on screen together and radiated an infectious sense of fun so when the announcement came earlier this year that they were joining forces again, this time on London’s West End stage, there was inevitably much Whovian rejoicing.
A few months later we find them at Wyndham’s Theatre in roles that could almost have been written for them; Beatrice and Benedick, the snarky, witty yet secretly smitten pair who steal all the attention from Hero and Claudio, the young lovers of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Director Josie Rourke has moved the action from 16th Century Italy to 1980s Gibraltar and treats us to such delights as Tennant in lace leggings and Tate in an outfit more than a little reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s black suit/white socks combo.
Shakespeare’s comedies are funny, able to raise a snigger if not quite a guffaw but this version raises laughs from the very beginning and rarely lets up. It’s clever, it’s quick, Tennant and Tate spar and bicker with wonderful wit and while Tate of course displays the impeccable comic timing she’s best known for, Tennant’s comic timing matches her throughout. The serious scenes are beautifully played too, the wedding scene especially where Beatrice’s tears and Benedick’s loyalty to her let both actors show us the vulnerable side of these somewhat jaded characters.
Ultimately, it’s a great evening at the theatre; lively, funny, fast, with two outstanding leads and a wonderful cast, some making professional debuts, offering stellar support. Again, as in Doctor Who, the Tennant and Tate chemistry is palpable, the feel good factor on stage hugely infectious and the cheers when our two prickly heroes finally lock lips almost deafening.
Tickets are scarce but if you can lay your hands on one, you won’t be disappointed.
Much Ado About Nothing runs at Wyndham’s Theatre until 3 September. Mon-Sat 7.30pm and matinee Sat 2.30pm. Tickets available in a 10am lottery for £10, standing tickets for £16.