Continuing the theatrical trend for all things al fresco this term, Creation Theatre Company have returned to Headington Hill Park with the chaotic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Director Charlotte Conquest has played up Shakespeare’s Mediterranean setting with sizzling flamenco dances and vibrant costumes, making it the perfect play for a balmy summer evening. The most striking aspect of this production is its use of space. The stage is a simple red square but the action is projected on different levels by means of a treehouse nestled in a magnificent oak. The expanse of parkland behind the stage proper is used to full effect to create extra comic gems, supposedly taking place off-stage. This heightens the dramatic irony which lies at the core of Shakespeare’s comedy, as we see characters approaching long before those on stage do. The scenes in which Benedick and Beatrice ‘accidentally’ overhear gossip about their tempestuous relationship make particularly good use of the versatile stage set. The pace is relentless with characters entering from unexpected directions, (and occasionally on bicycles) having performed lightning-fast costume changes. The cast have a rollicking good time evoking a real sense of girlish mischief and laddish japing. The mood becomes briefly more sombre at Hero’s ‘funeral’ with an atmospheric torch-lit procession, but the production really excels at the slapstick consequences of mistaken identity. The watch scenes are, as always, a little tedious and silly but they are redeemed by Tom Peters’ wonderful turn as the arthritic Verges with his cumbersome walking frame. Peters makes use of the same physical gags in his main role as Benedick; rubber-faced and dynamic, he plays up to the audience as a swaggering confirmed bachelor. His only match in the strutting stakes is the razortongued Beatrice, played by Elizabeth Hopley. She sensitively tracks the change in Benedick’s sparring partner from cross-dressing livewire into a more emotional, softer character. Dudley Hinton’s lovelorn Claudio is the archetypal callow youth with puppy dog eyes and a boy bandesque white suit. Julien Ball is also consummately smooth as Don Pedro, from his Godfather-inspired entrance complete with mirror shades, trimmed goatee and medallion, to his swift wooing of Hero for his lovestruck friend Claudio. Conquest’s production is full of light comic touches seasoned with splashes of Sicilian colour. As long as the British weather holds out, there is no better way to round off the Oxford term.ARCHIVE: 6th week TT 2004
Since 2014, ING staff have accrued pensions through the new ING collective defined contribution scheme.The pension fund’s official coverage ratio was reported at 145%, while the average for Dutch pension funds last year was 108%.Thanks to an additional contribution from the employer, as well as a full hedge of the interest risk on its liabilities, the scheme’s coverage increased by 17 percentage points over 2014.Last year, the ING scheme adjusted its targets after surveying its participants on their risk appetite.The survey showed they preferred certainty on their nominal pension over full indexation. The new target places the odds that its funding will fall short of 109% within a year, based on market rates, at less than 1%.It also stipulates that the probability the scheme will miss its indexation target of at least 80% of the consumer index within a 15-year period should not exceed 30%.The pension fund said its goals should be achievable if its ‘market funding ratio’ is approximately 130%, and 70% of its assets are invested through its matching portfolio. The remaining 30% should be placed in its return portfolio, consisting of credit, equity, property and private equity.The pension fund said it reduced its equity allocation from 20% to 16% and its interest hedge from 105% to 92.5%.It also plans to increase investments in inflation-linked bonds and swaps. ING’s €29bn pension fund in the Netherlands has scaled back its return-portfolio allocation by 15 percentage points, from 45% to 30%, in favour of its fixed income allocation.The pension fund hopes to achieve an indexation of 80% of the consumer index.The move, cited in its annual report for 2014, bucks the norm, as many other Dutch pension funds are planning to increase their equity allocations for higher returns.However, the Pensioenfonds ING differs from the average pension fund in that it has been closed to new entrants.
Sassuolo and Black Stars midfielder, Alfred Duncan, has been ruled out of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, with an ankle injury he sustained two months ago, Citi Sports can confirm.Duncan, who was set to play a key role in Kwesi Appiah’s team for the biennial competition, had a lengthy phone call with the coach on Sunday in which he informed him of his unavailability.Duncan has been carrying the injury since the beginning of the year, and has been playing through the pain barrier for the last 4 weeks.He brought the injury to his last national team assignment against Kenya and Mauritania in March and sat out 3 weeks of action on his return to Italy.Citi Sports has been informed that Kwesi Appiah has known of Duncan’s injury situation all along and has constantly maintained contact with the player throughout this period.It is understood Sassuolo doctors have decided the former Inter Milan youth star needs time to treat the injury to prevent further aggravation.A decision on whether he will require surgery will be taken after Sassuolo’s last match of the season against Atalanta on Sunday.
Yokohama F Marinos consigned Manchester United to their second successive pre-season defeat this afternoon.The Red Devils lost 1-0 to a Singha All-Star XI in David Moyes’ first game in charge, and a late goal from Yoshihito Fujita gave Yokohama a 3-2 win this time out.The hosts began the game quickly and took the lead inside 30 seconds, when Marquinhos seized on a Fabio mistake and fired past David De Gea at the second attempt.However, they could not keep hold of their lead and Jesse Lingard equalised in the 19th minute, when he tapped home from close-range after a fine cross from Wilfried Zaha.Moyes’ men then took the lead on the half hour mark, when Masakazu Tashiro bundled the ball into his own net.However, the home side continued to press forward and levelled proceedings just after half-time, when Fabio Aguiar headed home. And Yokohama then sealed a famous victory in the 88th minute, as Fujita found space and slammed the ball into the bottom corner.