Bard in the Botanics - Much Ado About Nothing
Outdoor theatre group interpret Benedick and Beatrice as modern gay couple
For the tenth anniversary of Gordon Barr’s reign as artistic director of Glasgow’s popular outdoor Shakespeare season Bard in the Botanics, there’s a real sense of renewed confidence in the choice of works being performed and the space in which the company feels happy to interpret their chosen plays. Alongside the just-finished Othello and Jennifer Dick’s Juilus Caesar, running concurrently with this show, Barr’s Much Ado About Nothing forms part of an ‘Edge of War’ season, focusing on characters conflicted by their military involvement.
Yet another unique aspect has been fed into this version of Much Ado, a play which Barr has already produced in Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens: this time the pivotal romantic couple of Benedick and Beatrice are a modern gay couple. ‘As I read through the play again something chimed with me about these characters,’ says Barr. ‘Their resistance to falling in love, their resistance to admitting their feelings for one another, particularly publicly -- what if they were a modern male gay couple?’
What Barr says he liked was the sense that the text works perfectly appropriately in this context with only the sex of the characters (now called Benedick and Bertram) altered. ‘There’s also an extra layer in that Benedick is a soldier coming from a very masculine world,’ says Barr. ‘How does he deal with this growing realisation? The Shakespearean phrase is that he ‘railed against it’, against falling in love. It all fell into place, the barriers to their love are all there in the play.
Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Jul