Thoughts about the Tate/Tennant Much Ado
This play is such a difficult one to perform and such an easy one to read. It has always struck me as more of a novel than a play, actually, in its content. (I mean, obviously I recognize that it’s a play.) There’s so much subtlety of interaction—for instance, there’s Margaret and the role she plays both unwittingly in the plot to bring down the wedding and in the snarkiness once the two B’s have left off sniping. That sort of side character doesn’t often turn up in a play about two pairs of lovers that already has two plot of subterfuge, a villainous bastard, and a masquerade. It’s just a LOT of stuff for one play.
And that—the difficulty of the play, those intricacies—is exactly why the Tate/Tennant Much Ado reigns supreme. Those of us (who am I kidding? All of us) who know them both from DW know this about each: (a) Catherine Tate is hilarious and biting and raucous but she can also do this thing where she can cut down to the heart of you, the viewer, and everything else in the scene and she can do it with her eyes alone and then suddenly you’re weeping AND (b) Tennant is funny, yes, but more than that he’s an incredibly generous artist who takes true, unabashed delight in the cleverness and skill of his co-star. That all holds true here as well as in Who.
This makes the “Have you wept all this while?” portion of the church scene even more moving than it normally is. I never thought I would see the day when I would like someone’s Beatrice as much as I liked Emma Thompson’s—for she is QUEEN—but Catherine Tate’s is also magnificent. Different in all the best ways.
And Tennant should always do Shakespeare. His Hamlet was brilliant, this was brilliant, can we lock him in a Complete Works of Shakespeare until he absorbs it all and becomes magic?
Also, last note: THANK GOD SOMEONE HAS FINALLY CLEANSED THE MEMORY OF MICHAEL KEATON’S DOGBERRY FROM MY MIND. IT HAS STANK UP MY MEMORY FOR OVER A DECADE.