To this reviewer's memory Shakespeare's sunny comedy Much Ado About Nothing set in sun drenched Messina has no references to rain in the text. So no 'the rain it raineth every day' no '… falleth as the gentle rain' no '… thunder, lightening nor in rain' and saddest of all no ' You say that you love the rain but you open your umbrella when it rains. You say that you love the sun, but you find a shadow spot when the sun shines'.
Thus so, it is down to the talented Oddsocks cast to add as many 'rain' and 'wet' jokes on their rain soaked stage as they perform their wacky version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at Nottingham Castle. The best of all must be Hero's (Lucy Varney) parting ad lib as she is jilted at the altar by Claudio (Peter Hoggart). Distraught and confused by Claudio's rebuff and abuse on her wedding day she storms off with her quip of annoyance “And it rained!” hanging in the air.
A slightly longer play than their gloriously funny Twelfth Night production playing as part of their summer season and, in some respects a slightly less zany show, Oddsocks' Much Ado retains much of Shakespeare's clever word play and yet is still as playful and inventive.
As the rain pours down on the wet but undaunted audience there are laughs a plenty and the verbal sparring between Benedick (Kevin Kemp) and Beatrice (Rebecca Little) is done with much wit. Actor Gavin Harrison constantly amuses as he quadruples up in the quick change roles of Don Pedro, Don John, The Sexton and Friar Francis. Peter Hoggart and Lucy Varney as loved up Claudio and Hero go for possibly the longest stage kiss in the history of theatre. Leonato performed by Andy Barrow is in turns hilarious and threatening and shares the same penchant as his Twelfth Night character Malvolio for revealing his under garments and this time his muscular torso as he wrestles with Claudio. Oddsocks style of adding in modern pop songs works particularly well in this version and the songs and music are delivered with panache.
Oddsocks always introduce their play with an outdoor theatre flourish and introduce each other by their actor alter egos with names only the totally daft pun based English sense humour could make up; Will Barrow, Miles Power, Penny Sillen, Doug Witherspade, Ophelia Rarse and Arthur Petesake.
An energetic, downright silly, utterly professional and totally inventive theatre company Oddsocks have a devoted fan base all over the country. That same fan base and newcomers to the Oddsocks scene all have one thing in common – well two things – they don't care about the rain if they are being royally entertained and – they really love it when the actors single them out and nick their cheese!
This rather damp evening the Oddsocks company even applauded the audience for staying to the end and as the final claps disappeared into the night air the rain finally stopped.