We take a look at what critics have been saying about Simon Godwin’s production of Shakespeare’s play starring Katherine Parker.

(c)Manuel Harlan

The Guardian: **** ” this is a polished fantasy, extremely easy on the eye and a consummate midsummer comedy. You walk away not hugely moved or surprised – but certainly entertained.”

Time Out: **** “Crucially, it’s a hoot. Whatever Godwin and Fleischle’s real inspirations, the whole thing looks like a dream and the decision to amp up the various characters’ eccentricities is a smart one. Productions of ‘Much Ado’ can fall into a comfortable pattern of centralising the witty clashes of on-off lovers Beatrice and Benedick as if their sparky repartee was the main point of the whole play. Here, Katherine Parkinson and Jon Heffernan play them as weirdos in a world of oddballs: she’s a dippily diva-ish film-star type, forever mining amusing new intonations and emphases from Shakespeare’s words; he’s a misanthropic loner, an object of amusement to his nominal BFFs Claudio and Don Pedro.”

Evening Standard: ** “It’s not a bad show, exactly, just ponderous and hollow. This play should zing with witty repartee and with the thrilling, shocking sense that no one can trust their emotions: instead we get gelato, cravats and sunshine.”

London Unattached: “This would be the ideal production to bring a first-timer to see or even for a little aspiring bard. The easy comedy makes it one of the most accessible Shakespeare plays I’ve seen, while nonetheless still honouring the language. Does Simon Godwin’s Much Ado About Nothing reinvent the Shakesperean wheel? Certainly not, and it’s not trying to, it’s just trying to bring you good clean fun.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “John Heffernan and Katherine Parkinson are a puzzling mismatch as this iconic couple of feuding paramours. At their first meeting they fall short of eliciting the necessary combative chemistry that will inevitably melt into affection, and while their pairing has its charm, the lack of believable romance between the two undercuts much of the play’s purpose.”

London Theatre.co.uk: **** “This is that rare Shakespeare production that zips by with barely a lull. That’s due to a universally strong company, including Ashley Zhangazha bringing authority and a mellifluous voice to Don Pedro; Rufus Wright, as Leonato, unravelling in heartbreaking fashion; and Eben Figueiredo (following his Christian in Cyrano, cornering the market in young lovers) retaining his South London twang for a believably callow Claudio.”

There Ought to Be Clowns: “But there’s detail here too should you look for it. The opening of the second act is astoundingly good, especially following the frivolity that has preceded. Just watch the anguish play over Parkinson’s face as Beatrice clocks what is about to happen way before anyone else, the menace with which David Judge’s Don John threatens Margaret into silence lest she sort things out with an explanation then and there, and the highly affecting release of emotion that comes as Benedick and Beatrice finally reveal their mutual feelings. Most any audience is primed to laugh ostentatiously at ‘Kill Claudio’ but it has never felt more inappropriate as here when there’s such devoted potency to the exchange.”

The Reviews Hub: *** “It may be a slow start, but as the play moves to its resolution and as Dogberry (ingeniously reimagined as hotel security) begins his investigations the audience is eager to applause every scene. And for the last 20 minutes or so the production soars. If only the first half could match the clarity of the second the National’s production could be a hit. The opening scenes are played in such a rush there is no time to fashion a chemistry between Beatrice and Benedick, and without that crucial relationship this really is much ado about nothing.”

Mature Times: “The comic success is David Flynn as Dogberry, the former police constable who is now head of the hotel’s security. Flynn’s performance is modelled on Ricky Gervais’s David Brent in the TV series, The Office.”

Reviewsgate: ** “As an introduction to the play it is a disaster which is not to deny that there were those in the audience who got to their feet at the end but they were being short changed. Much Ado is a great comedy about love and deceit and just how important virginity in a bride once was, but this is a pointless romp of a production. “

Broadway World: ***** “Two and a half hours or so flies by, afloat on a sea of wit and no little wisdom, the show a delight for eyes and ears. It’s seldom that one sees an artistic vision so fully realised and, in a world in which travel is now allowed, but increasingly expensive and difficult, what a pleasure it is to embrace, albeit vicariously, a trip to Sicily in the company of such beautiful and funny companions.”

The Telegraph: **** “Katherine Parkinson stars in a sunny production at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre.”

City AM: “Godwin – an old hand at Shakespeare having done Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night and Antony & Cleopatra for the National – keeps the tone from veering into try-hard territory. I’d encourage fans of the tragedies to give this a go – if you still hate it, I’d encourage you to ask yourself why.”

The Stage: *** “Appealingly accessible, if lightweight, production of Shakespeare’s comedy starring Katherine Parkinson and John Heffernan”

The Arts Desk: *** “Simon Godwin delivers an unexpectedly conventional production, larky and fluffy.”

Much Ado About Nothing continues to play at the National Theatre.