Much Ado About Nothing
A major revival of William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones and directed by Mark Rylance.
Two young lovers Claudio and Hero are to be married imminently but the devious scheming of a resentful Prince looks set to thwart the nuptials. Meanwhile, marriage seems inconceivable for reluctant lovers Beatrice and Benedick whose endless witty sparring threatens to keep them apart forever. Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s great plays and reminds us all of the failings and triumphs of the human condition in our never ending search for perfect love.
The cast for this production of Much Ado About Nothing in London stars Vanessa Redgrave as 'Beatrice' and James Earl Jones as 'Benedick'. The play is directed by Mark Rylance. This is the first time that either Vanessa Redgrave or James Earl Jones have played these Shakespeare roles and marks the second time they have performed together on stage following their critically acclaimed performances in Driving Miss Daisy (Wyndham's Theatre October 2011).
Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Old Vic Theatre previews from 7 September 2013, opens on 19 September 2013 and closes on 16 November 2013.
Much Ado About Nothing - Previewed 22 September 2012, Opened 27 September 2012, Closed 27 October 2012 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
The Royal Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing in London for a strictly limited season. The cast includes Meera Syal as 'Beatrice' and Paul Bhattacharjee as 'Benedick'. The production, which transfers to London's West End following a season at Stratford-upon-Avon, is directed in an Indian setting by Iqbal Khan.
"The two battling but besotted lovers at the heart of the story are Meera Syal as Beatrice and Paul Bhattacharjee as Benedick. We've seen them played as middle-aged lovers before, but here the sense of encroaching grey hairs, expanding girths and tired old age is overwhelming. Syal is only rarely as sparkling and feisty as she needs to be, more often merely world-weary, and Bhattacharjee's Benedick is too old and sensible to convey the happily ridiculous, preening-young-man vanity that is needed from Benedick in love. He comes over more as weedy and overwrought... On a more positive note, there's that terrific music and dancing. The costumes are lovely, too, especially the saris. Towards the end, dramatic power picks up with the wedding scene, and Madhav Sharma is on good form as Hero's indignant father, Leonato. Amara Karan, as Hero, is superb, with only a few lines to speak, yet a magnetic stage presence throughout... A very mixed Much Ado." The Sunday Times
The production is at its best when it makes inventive use of the Indian setting, as in Hero's aborted wedding: a spectacularly lavish affair taking place on an inset pavilion designed by Tom Piper and accompanied by stunning music from Niraj Chag; Hero's humiliation is made even worse by the way Sagar Arya's arrogant Claudio denounces her through a hand-held microphone. Meera Syal and Paul Bhattacharjee as Beatrice and Benedick also overcome the production's obstacles to suggest a growing mutual tenderness... There is good work from Gary Pillai as an implicitly gay Don John, and from Amara Karan as an unusually feisty Hero; and, as so often, Shakespeare's humane values overcome directorial excess." The Guardian
The director Iqbal Khan says about his production that "I initially resisted the idea of doing something exotic. But the more seriously I thought about the themes of the play - chastity and pure blood lines, the rituals of courtship, the arrangements of marriage - I realised all of those things are incredibly vital in India." Meera Syal says: "Making my professional Shakespeare debut at the RSC is scary. You're surrounded by people who know everything about him, but on the other hand, where better to do it? The role of Beatrice has changed profoundly over time, along with society's perception of women. She was written as having the wit of a man, but critics hated her. Now she's modern, the staple romcom heroine."
Much Ado About Nothing in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 22 September 2012, opened on 27 September 2012 and closed on 27 October 2012.