We could have been at home watching the Olympics. Instead, a task yet more Herculean was available for inspection. This was the transportation of an audience from a cold and rain-lashed Oxford quadrangle to sunny Sicily. Through the determination of the young actors of Oxford University Dramatic Society — some of them soaked and shivering in their vests — our journey to the port of Messina was successfully accomplished. That almost all of us saw out the visit to the end, shrugging off the water leaking through our rainwear, owed everything to the magic of theatre. Who could miss what would happen next?

This applied as much to those who knew the play as to those who didn’t. Enjoying my second Much Ado in a week (and my fourth this year), I remained eager as ever to see the traduced Hero (Jessica Norman) rehabilitated, her accuser Don John (Barnaby White) revealed a villain and her cousin Beatrice — in a sub-plot ever superior to the main one — on course for matrimony with her one-time arch foe Benedick.

Taking those last first, what a highly attractive couple these are to place before us. Besides looking a million dollars (many million lira, in this context), Ruby Thomas’s Beatrice gives us snappy witticisms, beautifully spoken, to match her snappy dressing. Jordan Waller, meanwhile, offers a Gianni-the-lad portrait of Benedick, deftly playing the audience to milk every laugh from his comic soliloquies. Though, perhaps, a tad too vehement at times, he could be forgiven for this in the context of a production set in the 1950s in a Mafia milieu. This explains the aforementioned vests sported by the actors (possibly following prescribed visits to the gym?) in a fashion reminiscent of those Dolce & Gabbana ads.

Director Max Gill’s take on the play works well, of course, with its emphasis on Cosa-Nostra-style codes of honour, pride in family and the like. In this context Jeremy Neumark-Jones’s Claudio emerges very clearly as the grasping go-getter he is. One notes his eager satisfaction on learning that the brotherless Hero is her father’s heir.

Dad Leonato, for his part, is presented as a tough-nut godfather figure in a top-class performance by William Hatcher, whose every well-modulated speech sounds with bell-like clarity in the not always easy acoustic of the Bodleian’s Old Schools Quad.

By contrast, Rhys Bevan starts somewhat unintelligibly in the role of the play’s principal comedian, Dogberry, but happily finds better voice as the action proceeds.

In Matt Gavan’s dignified presentation of Don Pedro I detect, not for the first time where this character is concerned, a suggestion that his interest in the young soldiers under his command might extend some way beyond the merely comradely. He looks both affronted and disgusted by Benedick’s suggestion at the close of the play that he should find himself a bride.

Until tomorrow and then touring. (www.oxforduniversitydrama.co.uk)