Middle-Aged Lovers Make Much the Biggest Waves; War of Words: Simon Russell Beale as the Swaggering Benedick Opposite Zoe Wanamaker's Vinegary, Cynical Beatrice in Nicholas Hytner's Production of Much Ado about Nothing

The Evening Standard (London, England), December 19, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Middle-Aged Lovers Make Much the Biggest Waves; War of Words: Simon Russell Beale as the Swaggering Benedick Opposite Zoe Wanamaker's Vinegary, Cynical Beatrice in Nicholas Hytner's Production of Much Ado about Nothing


Byline: NICHOLAS DE JONGH

Much Ado About Nothing **** Olivier, National

ZOE WANAMAKER and Simon Russell Beale make a far bigger and better splash inNicholas Hytner's alluring production of Much Ado About Nothing than I daredhope. As Shakespeare's young antagonists, Beatrice and Benedick, whose wittywar of words masks mutual attraction and concludes in an armistice dictated bylove, they are from conventional casting.

Benedick, a soldier-lord and Beatrice, the Governor of Messina's browbeatenniece, are elegant and sophisticated, young and aristocratic. Despite theirhigh talents neither of these actors is a natural recipient of theseadjectives.

Yet John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft famously led the way in the Fifties,revealing how these roles could be moulded to suit middle-aged performers or anunheterosexual actor of Gielgud's make-up.

Hytner's production bursts into exuberant, situation comedy. It does not,though, boast a concept or concern itself with the psychological makeup of thesoldiers who unite the romantic and dramatic plotlines.

Designer Vicki Mortimer locates the play in a strange no-man's land. Thecostumes mix 16th and 19th century styles. Attractive, white-washed Sicilianhouses are fore-grounded by a revolving stage on which are placed hideous,wooden, vertically slatted screens and a paved walkwayall fresh from Heal's, I guess. A small swimming pool, Mediterranean sunlight,sounds of dogs, chattering townsfolk, dawn chorus birds, music and humansingers complete the vivid Italian picture.

Wanamaker's dazzling, fiftysomething Beatrice appears a vinegary, cynicaloutsider in her own family.

She greets Russell Beale's comically swaggering Benedick, sporting a pointedbeard and pronounced air of condescension, with tart disdain.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Middle-Aged Lovers Make Much the Biggest Waves; War of Words: Simon Russell Beale as the Swaggering Benedick Opposite Zoe Wanamaker's Vinegary, Cynical Beatrice in Nicholas Hytner's Production of Much Ado about Nothing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?