The Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Much Ado About Nothing, starring Meera Syal, and Julius Caesar will transfer to London’s Noël Coward theatre next summer as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, after playing in Stratford.
Specific dates have not yet been confirmed for the London runs, though the productions will play back to back from late August to October.
Iqbal Khan’s production of Much Ado About Nothing transports the story of sparring would-be lovers Beatrice and Benedick to India. Khan’s RSC directing debut comes shortly after his production of Broken Glass, starring Antony Sher, found success at the Tricycle theatre and in the West End this year.
Syal, who plays Beatrice, is probably best known for her TV work including The Kumars At No. 42 and Goodness Gracious Me, though she has been seen frequently on stage in the past few years, with credits including Rafta Rafta at the National Theatre, Shirley Valentine at the Menier Chocolate Factory and West End, and, last month, The Killing Of Sister George at the Arts theatre.
Gregory Doran’s production of Julius Caesar is set in modern Africa, and features a cast including Joseph Mydell, Ray Fearon and Paterson Joseph. Mydell returns to the RSC where he has previously appeared in numerous productions, including Breakfast With Mugabe and The Mysteries. He can currently be seen in the National Theatre’s production of The Comedy Of Errors.
Fearon is another RSC regular whose work in London includes The Soldier’s Fortune at the Young Vic and Lower Ninth at the Trafalgar Studios. Joseph’s work includes The Emperor Jones, The Royal Hunt Of The Sun and Saint Joan at the National Theatre, and screen roles in Survivors, Peep Show and Case Histories.
The two productions boost the RSC’s London contribution to the World Shakespeare Festival, which runs as part of the London 2012 Festival. Already announced are three RSC productions at the Roundhouse – The Comedy Of Errors, Twelfth Night and The Tempest – staged by one ensemble, under the title What Country Friends Is This?
Speaking about the season, Vikki Heywood, Executive Director of the RSC, commented: “I am delighted that the RSC is able to bring these two productions to the West End during the summer of 2012, with the generous support of BP, Founding Presenting Partner of the World Shakespeare Festival. The productions will join our What Country Friends Is This? season at the Roundhouse, as part of our contribution to the World Shakespeare Festival, for London 2012 Festival. It’s great to be working with Delfont Mackintosh once again and we look forward to a London summer full of Shakespeare.”
Also staged as part of the World Shakespeare Festival are Timon Of Athens, starring Simon Russell Beale, at the National Theatre, Jonathan Pryce as King Lear at the Almeida theatre, and the Globe To Globe season at Shakespeare’s Globe.