Written by Shakespeare, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a well-known comedic play set in Sicily, circa 1598 and 1599. Making their way to Ipoh, ‘The Handlebards’ gave their version of the play on Wednesday, October 12 at the ACS Auditorium.
The UK-based theatre group consists of four cycling actors, namely Liam Mansfield, Matt Maltby, Paul Hilliar and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge. They have been travelling all over the world performing Shakespearean pieces with minimal set and props since 2013.
Tickets were priced at RM60, RM75 and RM250 for a family package of four. Students from Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) were present to enjoy the show.
Much Ado About Nothing is about a gentleman soldier, Benedick who hates Beatrice, the niece of Messina’s governor. Beatrice feels the same too. Benedick’s friend, Count Claudio, however, is attracted to the governor’s daughter, Hero.
They plan to marry in a week and while waiting, attempt into tricking Benedick and Beatrice to fall in love. And there are brothers Don Pedro and Don John. Don John, the bad one, plans to ruin the wedding.
What thrilled the crowd most was how the four actors played five to six roles each, covering the whole story. They proved that an impeccable play needs neither million-dollar props nor fancy costumes.
The other thing was how the actors interacted with the audience by inviting them to the stage. One of them was Peter Bucher of Sharpened Word. The quartet played music and urged the audience to clap along.
“It’s witty and eccentric, I couldn’t stop laughing. They really know how to entertain the crowd,” said one spectator.
The foursome with their amusing vignettes were all it took to grab the audience’s attention. Among the only props used were long strips of cloth to represent female characters and sock puppets to represent a different role.
To avoid confusion, each of the actors had a ring which produced the sounds of a bell. As they switched roles, they would press the ring indicating a character change. It was more of a novelty rather than just a performance. Well, nobody complained, as all were entertained.