Much Ado About Nothing – An adaptation of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy

Much Ado About Nothing - An adaptation of William Shakespeare

(review below)

Following its premiere last month in the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, Iqbal Khan’s vibrant comedy set in modern day India and starring Meera Syal and Paul Bhattacharjee, transfers to the Noël Coward Theatre in London for five weeks from 24 September.

‘A perfect setting. Meera Syal is a wonderful Beatrice, Paul Bhattacharjee is her irresistible Benedick…as for the costumes, I want them all’
‘A Shakespeare play tailor-made for British-Asian audiences’
Eastern Eye

‘A histrionic melodrama right out of Bollywood’
Daily Mail

‘Iqbal Khan’s production delivers the goods with style, substance and wit’
Daily Express
Paul and Meera play the sparring lovers, Beatrice and Benedick. Joining them on stage is a stellar cast of British Asian actors including Amara Karan as the wronged young lover Hero, Kulvinder Ghir as Borachio and Madhav Sharma as Leonato.
Amara made her RSC debut in 2009 in The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice, and stars in the film All In Good Time alongside Meera Syal.
Kulvinder Ghir appeared in three series of Goodness Gracious Me and his films include Ninan’s Heavenly Delights and Rita, Sue and Bob Too. Madhav Sharma’s many credits include Deadeye for Birmingham Repertory Theatre and on TV and film Amongst Barbarians, Ashes to Ashes, East is East and Entrapment.
The cast is completed by Sagar Arya (Claudio), Raj Bajaj (Balthasar), Rudi Dharmalingam (George Seacole), Neil D’Souza (Conrade), Shiv Grewal (Don Pedro), Ernest Ignatius (Antonio), Aysha Kala (Watch), Muzz Khan (Hugh Oatcake), Darren Kuppan (Messenger), Robert Mountford (Friar Francis), Simon Nagra (Dogberry), Chetna Pandya (Margaret), Bharti Patel (Ursula/Verges), Garry Pillai (Don John), Peter Singh (Sexton), Anjana Vasan (Maid).
EPK footage can be downloaded from:
Muzz Khan is blogging on
Iqbal Khan’s recent credits include Broken Glass at the Tricycle Theatre and The Killing of Sister George at the Arts Theatre in London in which Meera Syal appeared in the title role. He has worked at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith and National Theatre where he directed the Pinter double bill Landscape and A Slight Ache in 2008.

Original music is by Niraj Chag, one of the key modern interpreters of Asian classical and folk styles. He recently wrote the music for Wah! Wha! Girls – A British Bollywood Musical, Rafta Rafta for the National Theatre and the film version All In Good Time with Amara Karan and Meera Syal.

The set is designed by Olivier Award winning RSC Associate Designer Tom Piper and costumes by Delhi based Himani Dehlvi. Lighting is by Ciaran Bagnall, sound by Andrew Franks, movement by Struan Leslie and fights by Kev McCurdy.

As I walked into the Noel Coward Theatre I felt I if had walked onto the set of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, With the presence of men in uniform – which put a smile on my face instantly, they mingled with the cosmopolitan audience who where eager to get to their seats as I realized that the Soldiers were in their roles ready for the play to begin.

Where William Shakespeare is concerned it’s a hard act to followand one cannot compare one adaptation to another.
The play is about Hero and Claudio falling in love, whilst Claudio’s illegitimate brother tries his best to ruin the relationship also parallel to that Benedick and Beatrice are being ‘matched up’ by busy bodies around them as they both feel they are too ‘man’ enough to be married, both outwitting each other to prove they do not need love.

The play dealt with many issues like trickery, deception & Chinese whispers, which lead to confusion, and more confusion. The comebacks were equally witty and funny.

I loved the fusion of old fashion and modern language of love & hate, even in its darkest moments there was something to laugh about.

Meera Syal as Beatrice did a splendid job as so did all the other actors but one character that stood out for me was Anjana Vasan who played the maid. Her character was that of being a bit of a scatterbrain but cute, her facial gestures, her actions, her presence just made the play more enjoyable. The actors engaged with the audience throughout the performance, which was to my delight, as I wanted to get up and be involved in the daily ‘gupshup’ of ‘How you dare, whom you dare and where you dare – Do me right?’

The stage setting looked amazing with vibrant earthy colours giving the feel of India and with the musicians blending into the background was awesome, doubled with traditional and modern music the atmosphere captured the era. I would have loved to have got up and danced at the end as the ‘merry war’ ended on a good note.

If you ask me ‘was it much ado about nothing’ then my answer would be ‘No, it’s a play worth ‘noting’
Examples of noting as noticing occur in the following instances:
Claudio: Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato?
Benedick: I noted her not, but I looked on her.

Claudio: She is a fine jewel
Don Pedro: But can thee afford to find a case to put her in?

I totally got it!

Safirah Irani
Horse n Hound

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