Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 19, No. 3. March 24, 1955
This is a very successful show. Much Ado isn't an easy play for amateurs. Too much depends on the sophisticated word-tennis of Beatrice and Benedick, the sort of verbal volleyball popular in the Elizabethan "colleges of witcrackers". Nothing warms up humanly until well into Act 2, and there aren't even any clowns to lighten things till Act 3. It is a play with rather dry going, even for professionals, in the opening scenes.
Shakespeare uses "the mixture as before," some sighing lovers, some crackling scoffers, some comic commoners and an Italianate intrigue. The sighers are poetic, sentimental, instantly converted to love at first sight or suspicion at first hearing. The scoffers mock and jest and sparkle, and the low life fellows blunder amusingly about. In the end, the biters are bit, and Cupid wins the match. Shakespeare sets these airy aristocrats of his in various Lands of Comedy.—Illyria. Arden, Navarre, Verona—in this play it's Arragon—but Where does not matter because it's always Nowhere anyway, though England at the same time. The low born fellows are there to anchor down these plays to a very Elizabethan earth. Dogberry and Verges and their watch kept the Queen's peace in Stratford, or Westminster, or Bankside, and just bumbled naturally over into Arragon. Unlike some of Shakespeare's clowns, they are vital to the plot, their ineptitudes providing both the suspense and the solution.
To all these ingredients add a pinch of song and a little dancing, served up in the Concert Chamber.
The result is a very pleasant cake—pehaps puff pastry would be a better phrase—a little slow to rise at first, but light and tasty enough later.