04 August 2022, The Tablet

Summer fun

Summer fun

Caroline Quentin as Mrs Malaprop in Jack Absolute Flies Again
Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg


Jack Absolute Flies Again;
Much Ado About Nothing
National Theatre, London

Except for Covid delays and rescheduling, the National’s two latest shows would have run years apart. But, accidentally thrown together, Jack Absolute Flies Again (Olivier) and Much Ado About Nothing (Lyttelton) make a logical and lovely summer double bill.

Both are modernisations of classic texts, updated to the middle of the twentieth century. Richard Bean and Oliver Chris move Sheridan’s 1775 comedy The Rivals to July 1940, during the Battle of Britain. Director Simon Godwin has shifted Shakespeare’s 1600 drama of reluctant lovers to 1930s Italy in the Mussolini era, the original city setting becoming The Messina, a resort hotel.


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