Mel Giedroyc to star in Much Ado About Nothing at Rose Theatre Kingston

Mel Giedroyc will star in Rose Theatre Kingston’s centre piece of for their ten-year anniversary. Giedroyc will play Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing next April, reuniting with director Simon Dormandy following Luce at Southwark Playhouse in 2016.

Mel Giedroyc in Luce at Southwark Playhouse

Don Pedro is victorious. Having won a turf war down in the city, the Mafia overlord and his entourage take over the luxury spa hotel Messina in order to hide-out, party and recover deep in the Sicilian hills. As hotel owner Leonato fawns over his clan boss, his beautiful daughter Hero wins the heart of Claudio, the Don’s young protégé. Meanwhile the no-nonsense, customer experience manager Beatrice has unfinished business to attend to with Benedick, Pedro’s commitment-phobic consigliere. But when Hero is disgraced, the party is over, love turns to hatred and new battle lines are drawn.

Beneath its witty surface, Much Ado About Nothing is a powerful exploration of the struggle for love, identity and self-knowledge in a male-dominated world – as relevant today as ever before. Our production will use Shakespeare’s original language in a sharp contemporary setting that not only offers glorious opportunities for physical comedy amid the furnishings of a spa hotel but also provides a social context that enhances the darker themes in Shakespeare’s timeless masterpiece.

Executive Producer of Rose Theatre Kingston, Jerry Gunn said today, “We are delighted to be producing Shakespeare’s most popular comedy Much Ado about Nothing for the first time, and in our tenth anniversary year, with the superb Mel Giedroyc. I’m very excited to see Mel put her stamp on the role, and it is entirely fitting to have such a popular actress and performer playing Beatrice, something our Founding Artistic Director Sir Peter Hall would have been enchanted by.”

Director, Simon Dormandy commented, “A contemporary Sicilian setting offers the perfect social context for the play: an inflexibly patriarchal world, where daughters still marry as their fathers decree; a world brittle with honour and the law of vendetta; a south-Mediterranean world where a wedding is a major community event, and a shrine is still a place where magical things might just happen. Much Ado About Nothing is more than just funny: it is full of joy, a joy that springs as much from the overcoming of darkness by light – of brutal codes of behaviour by wit, imagination and love – as from wonderful jokes and sublime clowning.”

He added, “Not only a household name for her television presenting and comedy work, Mel is an outstandingly subtle, powerful actor, as well as a very funny one and we’re sure, an unforgettable Beatrice.”

Mel Giedroyc plays Beatrice. Her theatre credits include Luce (Southwark Playhouse), Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour (UK tour), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Playhouse Theatre), Eurobeat (Novello Theatre) and New Boy (Trafalgar Studios). Television credits include The Sound of Music Live, Miranda, Sadie J, Sorry, I’ve Got No Head and The Vicar of Dibley. Presenting work includes Letterbox, The Great British Bake Off, Let It Shine, Horrible Histories, Eurovision Song Contest, Relatively Clever, Mel and Sue Show, The Gift, Now You See It, Collectaholics, Late Lunch and Light Lunch. Radio credits include The 4 O’Clock Show, Count Arthur Strong Series and The Mel & Sue Thing. Giedroyc has also appeared in many comedy television shows including Would I Lie To You?, Big Fat Quiz of The Year, 8 Out of Ten Cats and Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man.

Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing will run at Rose Theatre Kingston from 18 April until 6 May.


Gyles Brandreth and his family to depict Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Three members of one real-life family – father, son and wife – bring Hamlet’s incestuous confusion of family life sharply into focus in a brand new production at Park Theatre. Starring Gyles Brandreth, Benet Brandreth and Kosha Engler, this take on Shakespeare’s epic drama fixes the spotlight on the myriad ways families make and un-make themselves.

In Hamlet – an epic drama with domestic tragedy at its heart – two fathers, a mother and a step-father make impossible demands on their children; sometimes it is their care that strangles and suffocates, sometimes it is their deeds and their deceptions which destroy.  Meanwhile the children test their parents by their actions and their inaction; by their madness, both real and assumed. Ultimately, two families are destroyed.

Gyles Brandreth is best known as an author, broadcaster and former MP, a reporter on The One Show (BBC1) and a regular on Just A Minute (Radio 4).  As an actor, he has played Malvolio in Twelfth Night (Riverside Studios), starred in his own award-winning musical revue in the West End and appeared in three five-star sell-out one-man shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.  His most recent London appearance was as Lady Bracknell in a musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest (Riverside Studios).

Author, Shakespearean rhetoric coach and Gyles’ son, Benet Brandreth works regularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Donmar Warehouse and others on Shakespeare’s use of language. He has also written and performed for radio and the stage with his one-man show The Brandreth Papers at the Edinburgh Festival and its London transfer. He is also qualified as an instructor in the Filipino Martial Arts and as a stage combat choreographer.

Kosha Engler, wife of Benet, is a Baltimore-born actress, voice artist and writer. The voice of Maybelline UK since 2012, Kosha’s television credits include the Emmy-winning Hoff the Record (2015) and The Wire (2002). Her film credits include The Man with the Iron Heart (2017), Moonshot  2009) and Tuck Everlasting (2002).

Set round a family dinner table, claustrophobic and intense, obsessed with family ties and filial duty, Hamlet will be directed by Simon Evans, whose previous productions include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui  (Donmar Warehouse) and Midsummer Night’s Dream ( Southwark Playhouse).

Hamlet runs at Park Theatre from 22 August – 16 September 

Review: “I almost fell in love with the medieval brute”★★★ Richard III, Arcola Theatre

The last time I saw Greg Hicks on stage at the Arcola Theatre, he was playing a macho old-school tabloid editor in Clarion, reminiscent of some I have had the pleasure of working with.

Seeing him now play the infamous tyrant Richard III may perhaps seem as if he is being typecast, but his portrayal of Shakespeare’s martinet is so much subtler, that dare I say it, I almost fell in love with the medieval brute.

Sara Powell as Queen Elizabeth and Greg Hicks as Richard III at Arcola Theatre

As the final installment of the Bard’s tetralogy (which also contains Henry VI parts 1-3), Richard III lends itself perfectly to modern-day interpretation, with the good versus evil plot line easily lifted into almost any era.

In Mehmet Ergen’s production we are transported to, well I’m not sure when, as there’s a real mishmash of costumes. Some of the more mature cast members appear to be in 70s garb, while the royalty are clothed in robes, so the timeframe in which it is it set is a bit lost.

The wealth of seasoned actors on display, including Peter Guiness as Buckingham and Sara Powell as Queen Elizabeth, deliver a good quality if not slightly slow depiction, but I must say, I prefer the tale of the dastardly wannabe King portrayed by a more youthful cast, as I feel they bring a more realistic torment to the rival factions and a desperation to their thirst for power.

There are also a number of occasions when the iambic pentameter becomes a bit much for some of the performers, particularly in the scenes with the young princes, which are stiff and feel under rehearsed.

The acumen of the lead cast thankfully outweighs the occasional slow Shakespearian waltz however, and Greg Hicks (disabled by chains in a masterstroke by costume designer Sarah June Mills) and Peter Guiness both put in accomplished performances.

Anthony Lamble’s multilevel, yet sparse set design ensures the focus is on the dialogue at all times, while David Howe’s lighting helps to differentiate between friend or foe, for those new to the play.

With a bit of tightening up, this production could be a regal romp, but it lacks the youthful exuberance, which gives Richard III its teeth.

Richard III is at the Arcola Theatre until 10 June 

Full casting announced for London’s Shakespeare in the Squares

Shakespeare in the Squares announces full casting for its 2017 production of Romeo and Juliet which tours to London’s squares and parks from 21 June to 13 July.

Tatty Hennessy directs Jack Brett (Mercutio), Naomi Bullock (Lady Capulet), Andrew Gallo (Prince/Paris) Indigo Griffiths (Juliet), Liz Marsh (Nurse/Lady Montague), Bruce Panday (Lord Capulet), Julia Righton (Sister Laurence), Hannah Sinclair (Benvolio), Adam Strawford (Romeo) and Roger Suubi (Tybalt).

Shakespeare in the Squares’ new production of Romeo and Juliet, the most youthful, full-blooded and sexually charged of all Shakespeare’s tragedies, is situated in 1950s Naples. Full of paeans to the speed of young love, the rashness of quick violence and the heat of the summer, it is an exploration of the generational divide between the young and old, and the devastating consequences of blindly inherited feuds.

Founded by Sue Fletcher and Martin Neild in 2016, Shakespeare in the Squares is a not-for-profit touring theatre company that stages a Shakespeare play across London squares every summer. The productions are tailored to the individual garden squares, and the company works with the garden committees and other local organisations to create a unique community celebration around the play. The company aims to provide a showcase for talented young theatre practitioners and to introduce audiences to the stars of the future.

You can find the dates and venues for Shakespeare in the Squares on the website