Old Vic’s Much Ado About Nothing or the nature of early word of mouth

old vic much ado about nothing posterIt’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.

4 responses to “Old Vic’s Much Ado About Nothing or the nature of early word of mouth

  1. I’m glad you didn’t violently hate it, but it appears there are lots of very unhappy punters still. Liked this comment today: “Audience leaked badly at interval.” I do really hope it shapes up.

    • Sorry I wasn’t clear – blame it on writing the post in a single tube ride – I haven’t seen the production. I was just trying to play with second hand impressions.

  2. Seeing this in Nov (at the end of the run) … Have read some of the not so good reviews and it’s not put me off!

    Unfortunately that’s role of Reviews – it helps people on booking to see a production..

    I think sometimes blog reviews are on “previews” and some judge a bit harshly.

    For me if the story, cast, writer etc.. “sings” too me I’ll book regardless and judge for myself (usually I book so far in advance I’m relying on the above anyway)..

    Bad reviews never put me off a show, But a good review can sway me sometime e.g the hype around Book of Mormon worked on me and I’m glad it did as loved it a lot.

    But another example, I knew off the bat when Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man was announced, it wasn’t my kind of production and even with the light and shade reviews, I’m still not curious as I know it’s not for me!

  3. Pingback: Round up for September and forthcoming shows for October | My thoughts and musings

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