There was much ado indeed at the Merlin Theatre in Frome last Friday where Year 6 were performing their abridged version of Shakespeare’s comedy: Much Ado About Nothing,  to a packed audience as part of the Shakespeare School Festival. 

The lights rose on two young children (Niamh Crinion and George Barnes) who immediately engaged the audience with their animated arguing over the remote control.  As their parents (Sophie Heritage and William Sharpe) entered, they took control of the T.V. for family movie night.

When Dad pressed play we were immediately taken back to a bustling 1980s Messina.  The young ensemble brilliantly captured the excitement of Don Pedro (Samuel Evans) and his soldier’s returning to Messina victorious.  It soon became clear that love was in the air between Hero (Ella Morgan-Nash) and Claudio (Barnaby Craven-Smith) meanwhile, the sharp tongues of Beatrice (Mille Watts) and Benedick (Dylan Collier) delivered their lines with confidence and excellent comic timing. Amidst the lightness and frivolity as Don Pedro and Leonata (Darcy Hunter) set to putting their unlikely plan of uniting Benedick and Beatrice, the play took a dark turn at the hand of the evil Don John (Sullivan Mills).

Throughout the play the acting was excellent.  Every member of the ensemble was true to the larger than life characters they created through excellent use of facial expression and body language.  The flow was smooth and they made great use of the space. 

The addition of live music and gymnastics enhanced the energy and enjoyment for the audience bringing to life the masquerade ball with some unique dance moves that were carefully matched to the characters. 

The relationships between the characters were convincing and the audience was deeply moved by Claudio’s shaming of Hero. Despite being a romantic comedy there were some intense moments. The light relief of the inept drunkard Dogberry (Aaron Hale) and his crew of useless Watchmen was welcome, they used physicality and voice to excellent comic effect.

We are incredibly proud of all the Year 6 children. They worked brilliantly as a team and put together a fantastic production that they were rightly proud of.  They demonstrated confidence and professionalism beyond their years and have made the most of this wonderful opportunity that working with The Shakespeare School Foundation provides.  Most importantly their enjoyment was tangible and this experience is one from which they have benefitted hugely and this will stay with them.

Rebecca Glenny, Teacher Director