Much Ado About Access
Ramps on the Moon’s production of Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing, featuring a mixed cast of non-disabled and Disabled actors, has just finished its run at the Crucible Theatre and is heading off on tour around the UK. I caught the show before it finished in Sheffield. As a blind theatre practitioner, I was interested in how the access would be integrated into the show.
If you love Shakespeare this is a great show regardless of your access needs. The cast is full of talented performers who bring Shakespeare’s words alive in both spoken English and British Sign Language (BSL). I know it’s common with reviews to name specific actors that stood out, but honestly, everyone is spectacular.
I do want to shout out the sound designer Sam Glossop and composer John Biddle. The sound and music gave so much context around the story, what time of day it was and how characters were feeling, complementing the integrated audio description (AD) beautifully.
Onto the AD itself. Chloe Clarke’s direction was a comfort throughout, with moments of real innovation that I wish more live theatre would take on board. Each show has a touch tour that anyone can attend. This as an access tool is designed for blind folks but can be super useful to anyone who wants more of an idea of what they’re about to watch.
AD specific moments that were notable were the intro before the play properly kicked off, where each actor described themself, their role and their costume. Unapologetically making this ‘pre-show’ information the start to the show was joyful. I also loved the party scenes where the dancing was described via call and response from the characters on stage. This AD, mixed with the music and soundscape, gave a clear idea of the movement and seamless transitions between the dancing and the more intimate dialogue.