Comedy/Tragedy

Shakespeare In a clever piece of duality, Bristol's Tobacco Factory's latest Shakespeare season brings together productions of Othello and Much Ado About Nothing. Although this short piece in The Western Mail highlights the contrasting comedy and tragedy, in describing the story of Beatrice and Benedick it fails to note the story similarities - and this theatre group's clever choice producing them one after the other -- that in some ways Shakespeare repeating much the same plot in both plays but closing them out in either darkness or light.

Both Iago and Don John have irrational axes to grind against a man who has apparently done them no wrong and use the impression of indiscretion on the part of a beloved in order to create jealous tension in their victims. The difference is of course that whilst Iago's plan comes to fruition, Don John's is vanquished in time and despite some moments of darkness - as when Beatrice says she cannot love Benedick unless he murders Claudio -- the situation eventually ends happily. Of late, these key similarities between the plays have been highlighted through the casting of a Black actor in the role of Claudio, as occurred in the recent production at the Library Theatre in Manchester.

According to their website, the remit of the Shakespeare at the Tobacco company is 'to see Shakespeare professionally performed by large casts in an intimate space', filling in a gap in a British market place that is clamoring for productions of Shakespeare's plays outside of London. The venue is a converted factory run by a charitable trust that offers a large playing area and is used throughout the year for a range of different entertainments including music, opera and comedy. This Shakespeare season runs from the 8th February to 28th March and tickets can be bought here.

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