A DRAMA group has turned to the Internet to encourage people to give 16th-century playwright William Shakespeare a go.

Didcot Phoenix will be performing the Bard’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing at Didcot Civic Hall on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14.

And, in a bid to make the play more accessible to those unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s works, the group’s members have put together a series of podcasts in which the cast talk about their characters and involvement in the story.

The podcasts can be found at: www.youtube.com/user/DidcotPhoenixDrama.

A Didcot Phoenix spokesman said: “They have really proved popular and give a real insight into the characters and the plot line of the play.

“We would really recommend anyone who is coming along to see the show to take a look at the podcasts as it may help to gain a better understanding of the play, particularly if they find the thought of Shakespeare hard going.”

Much Ado About Nothing is generally considered one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, combining as it does moments of hilarity with more serious meditations on honour, shame and court politics.

Set in Messina, Italy, at the palace of Governor Leonata, played by Edmund Bennett, Much Ado About Nothing tells the story of how when soldier Claudio (Adam Khimji) and Leonato’s daughter Hero (Corin Lawfull) meet for the first they fall instantly in love, but the warrior is too shy to talk to her or her father about his feelings.

But the villain of the piece Don John (Vaughn Lawfull) is jealous of Claudio’s standing as a war hero and sets out to ruin his life.

The group’s spokesman said: “The aim of our production, as in previous Shakespeare productions that we have undertaken, is to try and make Shakespeare as accessible as possible.

“This is very much a family show with a cast ranging in age from eight to 60-plus. There is music and dancing, so there should be something to please even the most discerning tastes.”

The remainder of the cast is: Don Pedro — Doug Amos; Benedick — David Cooke; Borachio — Fraser Norton; Conrade — Martin Redhead; Dogberry — Keith Norman; Verges — Jim Norman; Justice Francis — Andrew Holme; Watchmen — Greg Greetham and David Simpson; Beatrice — Rebecca Norton; Antonia — Jane Card; Margaret — Chris Pears; Ursula — Alison Driscoll; chorus — Josie Worgan, Flo Norton, Daisy Norton, Mabel Norton, Alice Holme and Izzy Driscoll.

The play is being performed at 7.30pm on both days with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets at £7 and £5 concessions are available from Didcot Civic Hall, online at www.didcotphoenixdrama.co.uk, by emailing the group at: didcotphoenixdrama@hotmail.com or by calling 07813 831040.There is a ten per cent discount on group bookings of ten-plus seats.