Paul Bhattacharjee is to go toe to verbal toe with Meera Syal this summer when he performs the role of Benedick opposite her Beatrice in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado About Nothing.
A veteran of previous RSC productions Arabian Nights, Edward III and The Island Princess, Bhattacharjee returns to the company having recently appeared in play cycles The Bomb and The Great Game for the Tricycle theatre. The experienced actor has also appeared in films White Teeth and Dirty Pretty Things, and TV series Eastenders, Waking The Dead and Spooks.
Speaking about the casting, actress, writer and comedian Syal said: “Paul Bhattacharjee is a wonderful actor whom I’ve known for 20 years. We have only played opposite each other once before, in 1992 in a BBC film called My Sister Wife, which was also my first screenplay as a writer. We played husband and wife then but with a far less happy ending than in Much Ado!”
Syal and Bhattacharjee will take to the stage in the Iqbal Kan-directed, India-set production of Shakespeare’s famous romantic comedy from July at the Courtyard theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, before the show transfers to London’s Noël Coward theatre in September.
When it takes to the London stage, the RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing will be the third production of the play to be seen in Theatreland in the last two years, following productions at the Globe, which starred Eve Best and Charles Edwards, and at the Wyndham’s theatre, which starred RSC alumni David Tennant and Catherine Tate.
Much Ado About Nothing’s run in the capital sees it follow another RSC transfer into the Noël Coward theatre. An Africa-set Julius Caesar, directed by the company’s incoming Artistic Director Gregory Doran, opens in August and runs until mid-September.