Much Ado About Nothing

Tarragon Theatre stages electric Bollywood-inspired spin on Shakespeare's comedy

Presented by Tarragon Theatre
Adapted from the original
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Richard Rose
Consulting director: Ravi Jain

Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Among the most revered of Shakespeare's comedies, Much Ado About Nothing stands out in its clever mixture of humour with serious issues such as honour and shame. As well known as the play is, Tarragon Theatre's current production puts a different spin on the characters, themes, and culture that allows the tale to be appreciated in a new way. Set in Brampton and centred around the Mayor of Brampton's family, this adaption features beautiful costumes, Bollywood-inspired music, and razor sharp wit. The metaphor-laced dialogue and social norms of the original shine through, while modern, Canadian elements infuse the production with fresh energy.

In this adaptation, all the names of the characters have been changed with the exception of Benedick, whose name has been altered to Benedict. The audience first meets the characters at the home of Mayor Ranjit of Brampton (David Adams), where businessman Lord Tata (Kawa Ada), his right-hand man Benedict (Alon Nashman) and his protege Darius (Ali Momen) are paying him a visit. In this opening scene, the Mayor's daughter Sita (Sarena Parmar) and her cousin Thara (Anusree Roy) interact with the three visiting men, although Thara and Benedict find themselves in a battle of wits, both stealing scenes with their sharp banter.

The young protege Darius confides in Benedict and Lord Tata that he is in love with Sita which leads to a deceptive seduction by Lord Tata, who successfully woos Sita and wins her father's approval on Darius' behalf. What ensues from this point is both hilarious and very effectively orchestrated, as the dialogue remains Shakespearean but is delivered in a very modern way, with cell phones and Canadian references thrown into the mix.

As they continue to butt heads, Thara and Benedict unwillingly find themselves in a love trap set by Lord Tata and his friends, while Jovanni Tata (Salvatore Antonio), his villainous half-brother, and his underling Dalal (Gugun Deep Singh) work behind the scenes to plot against the marriage of Sita and Darius. As these events are unfolding, the audience is treated to several scenes featuring two Canadian policemen, Head Constable Dan Singh (Anand Rajaram) and Constable Verges (John Cleland) who munch on Timbits and swap witty remarks about what is transpiring around the Mayor's home. This is only one example of a highly effective new element added in by director Richard Rose, who uses Canadian references to resonate with the audience.

Tarragon Theatre's Bollywood-inspired Much Ado About Nothing is enjoyable from start to finish, and much of the entertainment value is attributed to the leads, namely Nashman as Benedict, who is both eloquent and awkward, and Roy as Thara, who delivers consistently clever jokes and takes great pleasure in battling with Benedict. Rose has infused just enough new elements into the play while still retaining Shakespeare's original comedy, making this adaptation highly successful.

Much Ado About Nothing is on stage at Tarragon's Mainspace Theatre until May 31, 2015. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2015-04-22 - Sun, 2015-05-31
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