It’s a rare pleasure when I can enjoy advance word of mouth without first hand experience of a production. When I am without a ticket and uninterested enough not to be avoiding spoilers, but intrigued by what I hear and read. This is the case with the Old Vic production of Much Ado About Nothing, with its big name cast (Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones) and its larger than life director (Mark Rylance). Press night is tonight but the word of mouth has been interesting (to use a word that, if it had an expression, it would be a poker face).
“This Much Ado About Nothing is bolder than one might have expected” writes Ian (Ought to be clowns) . Another blog (Cream of Vampire Soup) disagrees: “All Old Vic productions are the same (…) No mess. No fuss. And definitely no risk.” Webcowgirl (in a blog post that has generated 46 comments so far) isn’t impressed: “Rarely has a title for a Shakespearean show proven so prophetic.” Westendwhingers give it two out of five. Huffington Post raves about it: “This wonderful production has so much innovation, spirit and humour that I loved every minute.”
First observation from reading the blog reviews: This is not the car crash I was promised. There is enough variety to pick my interest for the right reasons. Why does word of mouth seem bleaker? Do bad reviews stick best? Is it the nature of previews? (And to preempt criticism, commenting on previews is part of the process, and the audience should still expect something of value).
Or is it the directorial approach? Dominic Cavendish tweeted earlier today: “Mark Rylance says he has directed Much Ado About Nothing so each scene can be different every night. Wonder how that’ll work…” Indeed. Out of context it’s hard to know what this statement means, but if taken at face value do we all see the same production? If not, do the reviews mean anything?
Is the intrigue enough to make me want to see it for myself? Not yet. Is that an #epicfail (as people younger and cooler than I) would say? Maybe. But some times it’s fun to sit back and enjoy the chatter.