single handedly saving Bee Season etc

Film Ebert reviews Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme:
"This film is an affront. It is incoherent, maddening, deliberately opaque and heedless of the ways in which people watch movies. All of that is part of the Godardian method, I am aware, but I feel a bargain of some sort must be struck. We enter the cinema with open minds and goodwill, expecting Godard to engage us in at least a vaguely penetrable way. But in "Film Socialisme," he expects us to do all the heavy lifting."
I don't personally have a problem with doing all the "heavy lifting". Some of my favourite filmic experiences have been with enigmatic works that confront us with a set of events and challenge us to make the relevant connections.

Last night I finally caught up with Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy for which Juliette Binoche received the Best Actress Award at Cannes 2010.  She is extraordinary as she is in most things (single handedly saving Bee Season etc).  But equally extraordinary is the trust the director puts in the audience.

Although notionally about a date between a writer and an antiques shop owner played out in near real time like Before Sunrise, Kiarostami blurs the character and narrative lines so that we're not entirely sure what we're being shown, asking us to decide upon our own interpretation of events.

It's near impossible to talk too much about it without giving too much away, especially since I want you to go away to your nearest available source and find a copy.  It's one of the best films I've seen this year simply because it tasks the viewer in ways few contemporary films dare to.

But unlike Film Socialisme and most of Godard's late material (√Čloge de l'amour included), one leaves the experience entirely satisfied that the director himself knows what everything means and hasn't simply thrown a bunch of pleasant and unpleasant images on the screen hoping the audience will make some connections.  That's just rude.

Musicians of Shakespeare's Globe

The Guardian has an excellent piece on the musicians from Shakespeare's Globe. Artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, offers some insight into the compositions for the touring production of Hamlet
"In Dromgoole's touring production of Hamlet, Laura Forrest-Hay's deliberately anachronistic score features a rustic mix of medieval crusade songs, ghostly sound effects and 16th- and 17th-century Scandinavian folksongs, arranged for a ragtag bunch of instruments: modern saxophone and acoustic guitar, accordion, fiddle and percussion. Says Dromgoole: "That sort of free-play with anachronism, where you're simultaneously in your own age and you're in a bit of the past and a long way back, is what we base a lot of our work on at the Globe." Not that the days of Jacobean music on the South Bank are over, he says. "Filling in those gaps in people's musical knowledge is such an important part of understanding how we can move forward. If we don't really know our own culture, and our own traditions and our own history as it was, then it's very hard to reinvent the future in interesting ways."
Sadly, the closest the production will be to me is Buxton which is a pity because we have an open air theatre going spare on Renshaw Street in Liverpool.

a near perfect Guardian headline

Journalism Laugh as I might at this perfect storm of an Express front page, I'm not so much of a looking glass gazer that I can't also recognise a near perfect Guardian headline:
Adam Curtis to make TV project inspired by The Wire
If it had ended with "... about superinjunctions" or "... about Wikileaks", Comment Is Free would have imploded in on itself bringing with it a fracture in the fabric of reality.

it was easy to imagine them

TV Neil Gaiman's posted a FAQ about Doctor Who's The Doctor's Wife and it's invaluable in these dark days without podcast commentaries:
"I think my very first draft was for a sort of a neutral doctor who probably sounded a lot more like David Tennant's Doctor than anyone else because he was what I was used to (see the dialogue above) - but then, Matt hadn't been cast when I wrote it. So I just wrote it as best I could for "The Doctor" and tried not write it for any particular Doctor. By the time I got onto the second round of rewrites, putting Rory in, I'd seen a series of Matt and Karen and Arthur. I knew what they sounded like. So it was easy to imagine them as I wrote and revised. Some of the Doctor's lines changed a bit -- I wrote the "bunk beds are cool" stuff here for example, -- but not as much as you'd imagine. A lot of the Doctor's dialogue you saw on screen was there in the first draft."
One of the banner headlines is that although he knows they exist, he hasn't explored Big Finish or the novels so any similarities to something like Chimes at Midnight are purely incidental, which is a shame because I think he'd giggle at the coincidences.

spoilers like Albion Market rarely work

Books One of the less desirable inconsistencies of broadsheet arts coverage (or at least the arts coverage in the broadsheet I read) is in the treatment of television. While theatre, film, music and even comedy is granted serious consideration and muscular debate even when the source material is relatively light, television is hived off and most often considered using a format akin to a synopsis with jokes or in the case of serious material a synopsis. Drama in particular is ill served; typically the writer is rarely mentioned, the director never, both key components of a theatre review.

Which isn’t to say that such coverage isn’t available elsewhere and is especially available on-line if you know where to look, and for just over a decade, Off The Telly was the place to look. A mature sibling to TV Cream, OTT served a mix of contemporary reviews of new shows and retrospectives on a range of nostalgia with lengthy reports considering Christmas and Saturday night television past. It was a fanzine that embraced all of the medium from The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club to GBH, considering that medium with the intellectual respect it often deserves but rarely receives.

And now it’s a book. Edited by Mark Jones of BrokenTV (arguably a successor), the self explanatory titled Off The Telly: The Best Bits of the British TV Website 1999-2009 gathers together writing from its most prominent (or contactable) authors from across the years on topics big (The Simpsons) and small (Hippies) perfectly the capturing the haphazard yet comprehensive editorial policy. To open at one of the six hundred odd pages, is to plunge headlong into the televisual heritage of the country, surf the channels of our collective memory.

Of course, this unlikely to be an entirely unbiased review since I was invited to write for the website during that decade and ultimately turned in some of the writing I’m most proud of. Arguably their most incongruous essay, on Clerks: The Animated Series of all things, was the one piece of writing I submitted with my application to study a film MA and the whole process of writing in OTT’s house style was the perfect mental training for the many essays that would follow. Apart from the week I was asked to review The Apprentice which just drove me mental.

What Off The Telly had which other websites could learn from was patience. Only very latterly embracing the blog format, OTT would instead publish just three long form essays at the beginning of each month (surrounded by contemporary reviews) and there was a professional commissioning process the editorial hand of a professional editor crafting the writing before it appeared on-site. It’s that which led to the high quality of the text, proper consideration given to the flow of facts, words and opinions rather than a reliance on some cheap jokes (though on occasion there were enough of those too).

All of which pays dividends here. This book is gold. I’m yet to find as incisive a discussion of Have I Got News For You as Matthew Rudd’s, from its humble beginnings as a topical new quiz through Merton’s absence to its trouble post-Deyton period and beyond. Shorter but no less fascinating is Ian Jones’s investigation into failed soap operas in which the general impression is one of intent: spoilers like Albion Market rarely work and Brookside arguably dragged on unloved by its channel for too long.

Over and over we’re confronted with surprising subject matter. The Show was a shortlived experiment on Channel 4 featuring Bob Mills which attempted to transfer the Larry Sanders docu-chatshow format to the UK but with the added metaficitonal twist that everything was real. But as reviewer Steve Williams notes, the problem was that people were more interested in the backstage material than the chat show at its core leaving the enterprise as brilliant but hollow. Phil Cool is treated equally as thoughtfully by TJ Worthington reminding us of the fickle nature of television and those who attempt to sustain a career therein.

The articles are mostly split into genres (comedy, drama, light entertainment) but three televisual behemoths have dedicated sections. A retrospective of Alan Bleasdale’s work covers Blackstuff, Mutineer, GBH and Jake’s Progress (which is gifted with an essay by Jack Kibble-White on the press reaction which is useful primer on the kinds of flippant or self indulgent reactions OTT, it always seemed to me was fighting against) and another forty pages chart the slow decline of The Simpsons both in episode quality and the BBC’s scheduling.

Then there’s Doctor Who. Introduced by Graham Kibble-White who now reviews the broadcasts for the party newsletter, these articles along with the McGann audios were instrumental in dragging me back to the franchise during the wilderness years, from Ian’s investigation into the politics of the series, to Graham’s exploration of fandom and Jack’s look at how the show influenced later productions, including Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere which has nice circular logic to it. Andrew Collins brings things bang up to date (well, 2005) with a description of his day recording a Big Finish audio.

In selecting the content, Mark says that he consciously ignored the contemporary reviews and part works, preferring to preserve these longer articles, hoping that the book should make sense in and of itself should it be picked up in a couple of decades which is probably the right decision. Already, the records of the early days of Big Brother and The Apprentice look ephemeral, such is the way of television. We don’t have enough perspective yet. Perhaps that’s a job best left to enthusiast of the future to come to terms with the phenomena that was and still is John Tickle.

 Off The Telly: The Best Bits of the British TV Website 1999-2009 can be purchased from Lulu.

"Don't threaten me with a dead fish."

"in places where Woody’s movies don’t usually respond"

Film Again proving William Goldman's maxim that no one knows anything Woody's latest film, Midnight in Paris, has gone relatively huge on its US release becoming his most popular film in years.
In fact, says Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard, they’ve broadened the movie more briskly since platforming it in NY and LA on May 20 than they had intended, due to its strong numbers in every market. “It’s worked everywhere, in places where Woody’s movies don’t usually respond,” he says. Allen works in some markets like Manhattan “no matter what,” but often “in the hinterlands he doesn’t translate.” This coming weekend the movie goes as wide as any Allen movie ever has since Anything Else: 940 screens.
Which bodes well for a decent UK release. Might even find its way to blu-ray.

random, incoherent musings

Exit stage left

Life  This blog, and more specifically Saturday's Doctor Who review received a thousand hits. Blogger stats indicate that the sources were roughly a third each from twitter, the RSS feed and a link from the Tardis Newsroom. That's a spike. On an average day the reach is between five and six hundred, sometimes reaching seven.  When the blog began roughly ten years ago, the main readership was about twenty or thirty and most of those were from a search engine, or at least that's what site meter would tell me.  Needless to say, this increase astonishes me.

But it's also brought a certain element of mental paralysis.  When you are writing for nobody, you really do feel like you can talk more openly about stuff and I did.  The Rules were still in place (in short, no talking about work) but everything around that was fair game.  But then I began to reach the stage where I'd find myself unable to contribute to a conversation because people had already read what I was about to say on here, I began to question everything, and with the increase in readers, that's become more and more acute.  I showed someone my old Prozac Nation review today.  I was astonished by how emotionally naked I'd been.

What does all of this self indulgence mean?  Taking into account the irony of that question being posted on one of the modern world's great acts of narcissism, I wonder if I'm alone in this.  There are a few blogs I've read since I began writing here, fellow journeymen and women and like me, who I've also seen turn from being very open in what they reveal about themselves to closing themselves off, becoming link blogs, or commenting on what they've read rather than writing about themselves.  Clearly some have migrated to social networking and I'm also "guilty" of his, but others have perhaps been gripped by a similar kind of blogging dementia.

Which suggests that all of you have become some kind of excuse not to write but I truly can't believe that's it.  Is it that the blog has run its course?  I don't think it's that either.  Is it that after watching the Adam Curtis thing, in which he talked about how posting on-line effectively means your parcelling up your feelings for human consumption that I've become concerned that I'm spending more time thinking about what I can write here and having experiences expressly so that I can write about them here, that I've forgotten what it is that I'd like to do otherwise?  Or what I did beforehand?

Perhaps I'm just in weird mood this evening and have been for several evenings punctuated by adventures in time, space and Elizabethan theatre.  Perhaps it's just anxiety that I'm reach an age when my tastes are narrowing having researched exactly what it is I do like and it's having a knock on effect in terms of what I'm writing here and I'm increasingly becoming bored by the sound of my own voice.  Or in fear of just being boring.  Yes, I'm sure it's just that.  I need to stop being boring.  If nothing else, these five paragraphs of random, incoherent musings could be offered up as an argument for that.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.


[via]

That inspiration for Ophelia story.

The obligatory link due to the title of this blog department (I'm in a cynical mood today):
"A little girl of the 16th century, who lost her footing while picking flowers, tumbled into a mill pond and drowned, could have inspired one of the most famous tragic heroines of literature.

"Shakespeare was five at the time of the tragedy that befell Jane Shaxspere in 1569, and would not write Hamlet until 40 years later, but academics now believe the girl may have inspired the fate of the author's character Ophelia."
To be fair, it is seductive idea -- Shakespeare's character is a far more complex character than the "fair woman" in Saxo Grammaticus. But for all we know, the Ur-Hamlet had all of these details too. Assuming that isn't just Q1 as some other academics believe.  As with all Shakespeare scholarship, we're chasing our tails again.

Extract from Kingsley Amis's The King's English: A Guide To Modern Usage



Over a decade ago and old friend, well I assume we're still friends, sent me a copy of Kingsley Amis's The King's English: A Guide To Modern Usage. I've dipped into it now and then in the years since. It's never seemed like the kind of book that can be read from cover to cover despite Amis's magnetic wisdom. His prose can be intimidating, especially since, over and over again, I've been proved wrong on a great many things. Perhaps that's what my friend intended. I'd like to ask her some time.

As is to be expected, Amis mentions Shakespeare somewhat. Usually it's in passing, when searching for a paragon. His most impressive outburst is during the glossary, when after lucidly explain the chronological context for Old English (- AD 1150), Middle English (about 1150 to about 1500) and Modern English (everything since including Shakespeare) where he notes that "only a barbarian talks of old English when Elizabethen or Jacobean or other "old-fashined English" is meant.

Inevitably he does dedicate a complete entry to Shakespeare. It's short and to the point:
Shakespeare

It is fair, through hardly very important, that to say or imply that the man of this name is not our greatest writer marks a second-rate person at best. The aberration whereby the name was spelt Shakspere is now happily discontinued. I recommend that the derived adjective be spelt Shakespearean with an E, not Shakespearian with an I.

His works should not be taken as justifying subsequent practice. In particular, as a writer and speaker of the period 1590-1610 he threw accentuation further forward than we now customarily do, making actors in Hamlet, for instance, stress commendable and observance on their first syllables.
Except of course in the weeks when I've listened to a lot of Shakespeare and I find myself slipping into iambic pentameter or at least trying to, the words tripping over one another trying to discover the correct stresses and failing miserably because I lack the vocabulary.

a particular season

TV Here's where we're up to:

The BBC have commissioned the usual thirteen episodes of Doctor Who for next year, plus a Christmas special. They will star Matt Smith. John Fay is writing one of them.

But the BBC have said: "The new commission is a big commitment, not many other shows have such a commitment so far in advance. We do not know yet how many will air in 2012."

I have no idea what to make of that. Unless they're falling into a Sarah Jane Adventures style production schedule (the reason why we still three more stories to watch) in which more episodes than required for a particular season are being produced so they'll run eight then have another six banked or what have you.


Either that or the BBC press office person is being deliberately abstruse.

What none of this does confirm is whether either Karen or Arthur are returning although with various projects having been announced for them, it does look rather like they'll be leaving us at the end of this series.

Which means they'd already have to be thinking about what to do next.

Do we think Alex Kingston would commit to a whole series?

anonymous complaint

Film This unit and lack of policing of her kind of behaviour is one of the reasons I hardly go to the cinema these days and wait three months for a shiny disc release:



Congratulations to the relevant world of cine chain for kicking her out and once again for posting her abundantly oblivious anonymous complaint to the web with such good humour.

That she says she's going to tell all of her friends not to visit said world of cine is all to the good for the other patrons.

And now the obligatory link to the Wittertainment Code of Conduct [via]

RSC at 50 illustrated.

Polska Andi has created a set of twelve illustrations to celebrate the Royal Shakespeare Company's 50th season.

Here is Hamlet. Yorick appears to be notional in this interpretation.

Polska has also created this 360 degree view of the theatre.

"I’m not claiming that all films have four acts"

Film Let me ruin films for you. Here's an old blog post from Kristen Thompson on the subject of turning points in film narrative, in which she outlines the kinds of action involved and when.

Here are the two paragraphs to focus on.  Once you've read them, it'll be almost impossible for you not to see any Hollywood (and some so-called world cinema) without looking to see if the film maker is following a well-worn process and know when the first turning point will be:
"Most screenplay manuals treat turning points as the major events or changes that mark the end of an “act” of a movie. Syd Field, perhaps the most influential of all how-to manual authors, declared that all films, not just classical ones, have three acts. In a two-hour film, the first act will be about 30 minutes long, the second 60 minutes, and the third 30 minutes. The illustration at the top shows a graphic depiction of his model, which includes a midpoint, though Field doesn’t consider that midpoint to be a turning point.

I argued against this model in Storytelling, suggesting that upon analysis, most Hollywood films in fact have four large-scale parts of roughly equal length. The “three-act structure” has become so ingrained in thinking about film narratives that my claim is somewhat controversial. What has been overlooked is that I’m not claiming that all films have four acts. Rather, my claim is that in classical films large-scale parts tend to fall within the same average length range, roughly 25 to 35 minutes. If a film is two and a half hours rather than two hours, it will tend to have five parts, if three hours long, then six, and so on. And it’s not that I think films must have this structure. From observation, I think they usually do. Apparently filmmakers figured out early on, back in the mid-1910s when features were becoming standard, that the action should optimally run for at most about half an hour without some really major change occurring."
To drag this bag to the mainstream of this blog's symposium lately, I think one of the reasons some viewers of this latest series of Doctor Who have been less than pleased is because even in the more traditionalist stories, Moffat and co have been subverting many of the expected narrative storytelling norms -- in effect ignoring a version of the above and importing instead the art house structure in Saturday night genre television.

In storytelling terms, A Good Man Goes To War is pretty eccentric.   The Doctor, the protagonist isn't seen physically on-screen for twenty minutes, his presence instead implied by Rory and the iconic presence of the TARDIS.  That's the sort of thing you might expect in an Alain Resnais or late Tarkovsky film, perhaps even Passolini and when he does appear he's still a relatively distant figure.

Spin-off fiction was sometimes just as post-modern.  If you have the chance I'd urge you to pick up a copy of The Blue Angel by Paul Magrs which reads more like a Virginia Wolf novel than anything else in places.  Similarly the audios Jim Mortimore's The Natural History of Fear and Scherzo by Robert Shearman shatter the expectations of what should even be in a Doctor Who story.

It's good to see the television series is willing to take these risks and judging by the audience appreciation figures (AI of 88 this week), most viewers continue to be entertained.  As with the surprise box office for Inception and the audiences for Sherlock last year, it's an example of the audience wanting to see challenging drama.  As for light entertainment, well ...

a 50-year-old "opinionated Everyman"

Books Lost Conan Doyle book to be published:
"The Narrative of John Smith was written when Conan Doyle was 23, and just a few years before the author published his first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. It tells the story of a 50-year-old "opinionated Everyman" confined to his room by gout, laying out his thoughts and views on subjects from religion to war and literature through the conversations he has with his visitors, from a retired army major to a curate."
Excellent. But is it canon?

based on a Singer sewing machine

K9 or K-1909 in this case

Museums Ian visits Kew Bridge Steam Museum and finds a Steam Punk exhibition which includes this rather amazing Edwardian K9 based on a Singer sewing machine. His post on the visit also contains a shot of a Dalek which Mr. Moffat really should pay attention.

Much Ado About Nothing (Classic Radio Theatre).



It’s with a certain inevitability that since David Tennant’s returned to Benedick at the Wyndham Theatre, AudioGo would rerelease his first run out at the part opposite Samantha Spiro as Beatrice from late September 2001. In the new tie-in edition of Much Ado About Nothing, his new leading lady, Catherine Tate, describes how Tennant mentioned the radio production when she first broached and it’s clear that he thinks of it fondly. And he’s right to. It’s lovely.

Later in the same interview, the actor suggests he was, even at thirty, a bit too young for the part and that it works better slightly older actors, not quite in their first flush, perhaps best if they’re well into their second or even third. Whilst that’s true, his youthful voice still contains much maturity and as Benedick lists his many qualms about the fairer sex, particularly in the shape of Beatrice, he lends the words much experience as well as a touch if nostalgia.

Tennant was still years away from becoming a household name when this was recorded, still known within the industry as a reliable presence on radio and stage and as a character actor on screen. He plays the role in full Scotch brogue, verbally punching the syllables with superb comic timing, and it’s a unique occasion when his description of Claudio “I have known when there was no music / with him but the drum and the fife” gains a geographic resonance.

He contrasts perfectly with Spiro’s RP delivery who because of the timing of this release may well be unfairly compared to Tate. She’s repeated Beatrice too, in 2009 at Regent’s Park and garnered some excellent notices which suggest that Tennant she was unafraid of stressing her maturity and like Tennant, the first seeds of that late blooming approach are planted here. She’s smart, fearless and with a requisite obstinacy which suggests that their war of word will continue into marriage.

But it’s perhaps unfair to focus too much on that duo, when this is the kind of “all star cast” the phrase “all star cast” was designed for, an ensemble that would later underpin the BBC’s prime time schedule. Yes, that is Emilia Fox as an aristocratic Hero, a soft spoken Chiwetel Ejiofor as her beloved Claudio and Silk’s Maxine Peake in the relatively minor role of Margaret, her broad accent introducing a useful class element which is usually only reserved for the interminable Dogberry scenes.

Julian Rhind-Tutt also makes for an especially menacing Don John. On stage the character can become lost amongst the revere, a function of the misunderstandings rather than the trickster he really should be. Rhind-Tutt’s deep voice, has a cold resonance that’s barely human as though the devil himself is stalking what should otherwise be a merry comedy. When he speaks to those outside of his circle, there’s no chemistry, no sense of camaraderie.

Director Sally Avens, perhaps sensing the value of the cast, presents a simple soundscape short on gimmicks, preferring to project the language without too radical an interpretation, no 80s version of Hey Nonny Nonny here. Which isn’t to say the music doesn’t have a vital part to play in unifying the action and the orchestral score provided by composer/performers Simon Oakes and Adam Wolters has a surprisingly melancholic quality.

A final word about the excellent sound design which unlike too much audio theatre gives these characters a physical presence (rather than the disembodied voices which sometimes pull the audience out of the action). When Benedick and Beatrice hide in the arbour and listen to their friend’s subterfuge, the point of view shifts between their harrumphing and the false words they’re listening to, the change in volume suggesting almost magically that most visual of devices, the close-up.

Much Ado About Nothing (Classic Radio Theatre) is published by AudioGo. RRP: £13.25 ISBN: 978 1408 470015. Review copy supplied.

an ensemble that would later underpin the BBC’s prime time schedule

Radio It’s with a certain inevitability that since David Tennant’s returned to Benedick at the Wyndham Theatre, AudioGo would rerelease his first run out at the part opposite Samantha Spiro as Beatrice from late September 2001. In the new tie-in edition of Much Ado About Nothing, his new leading lady, Catherine Tate, describes how Tennant mentioned the radio production when she first broached and it’s clear that he thinks of it fondly. And he’s right to. It’s lovely.

Later in the same interview, the actor suggests he was, even at thirty, a bit too young for the part and that it works better slightly older actors, not quite in their first flush, perhaps best if they’re well into their second or even third. Whilst that’s true, his youthful voice still contains much maturity and as Benedick lists his many qualms about the fairer sex, particularly in the shape of Beatrice, he lends the words much experience as well as a touch if nostalgia.

Tennant was still years away from becoming a household name when this was recorded, still known within the industry as a reliable presence on radio and stage and as a character actor on screen. He plays the role in full Scotch brogue, verbally punching the syllables with superb comic timing, and it’s a unique occasion when his description of Claudio “I have known when there was no music / with him but the drum and the fife” gains a geographic resonance.

He contrasts perfectly with Spiro’s RP delivery who because of the timing of this release may well be unfairly compared to Tate. She’s repeated Beatrice too, in 2009 at Regent’s Park and garnered some excellent notices which suggest that Tennant she was unafraid of stressing her maturity and like Tennant, the first seeds of that late blooming approach are planted here. She’s smart, fearless and with a requisite obstinacy which suggests that their war of word will continue into marriage.

But it’s perhaps unfair to focus too much on that duo, when this is the kind of “all star cast” the phrase “all star cast” was designed for, an ensemble that would later underpin the BBC’s prime time schedule. Yes, that is Emilia Fox as an aristocratic Hero, a soft spoken Chiwetel Ejiofor as her beloved Claudio and Silk’s Maxine Peake in the relatively minor role of Margaret, her broad accent introducing a useful class element which is usually only reserved for the interminable Dogberry scenes.

Julian Rhind-Tutt also makes for an especially menacing Don John. On stage the character can become lost amongst the revere, a function of the misunderstandings rather than the trickster he really should be. Rhind-Tutt’s deep voice, has a cold resonance that’s barely human as though the devil himself is stalking what should otherwise be a merry comedy. When he speaks to those outside of his circle, there’s no chemistry, no sense of camaraderie.

Director Sally Avens, perhaps sensing the value of the cast, presents a simple soundscape short on gimmicks, preferring to project the language without too radical an interpretation, no 80s version of Hey Nonny Nonny here. Which isn’t to say the music doesn’t have a vital part to play in unifying the action and the orchestral score provided by composer/performers Simon Oakes and Adam Wolters has a surprisingly melancholic quality.

A final word about the excellent sound design which unlike too much audio theatre gives these characters a physical presence (rather than the disembodied voices which sometimes pull the audience out of the action). When Benedick and Beatrice hide in the arbour and listen to their friend’s subterfuge, the point of view shifts between their harrumphing and the false words they’re listening to, the change in volume suggesting almost magically that most visual of devices, the close-up.

Much Ado About Nothing (Classic Radio Theatre) is published by AudioGo. RRP: £13.25 ISBN: 978 1408 470015. Review copy supplied.