Shakespeare’s 450th Anniversary


by William Shakespeare
26 May – 5 July 2014


Love, Love, Love: Shakespeare‘s Fools in Love

(…) Before that, the audience delights in a bevy of eavesdropping and denunciation. Men and women alike indulge in a welter of scheming, the joys and the perils of matrimony are celebrated. Director Joyce Branagh, younger sister of Shakespeare star Kenneth Branagh (she assisted him on the film-set of the play in 1993), borrows passages from the Beatles hit, „She loves You!“.

Biggest hits in „Much Ado About Nothing“ are the racy battles of words between Beatrice
and Benedick; she (Ellie Burrow) hates men, he (Alan J MIrren) is a confirmed bachelor. The recalcitrant pair run riot with total youthful elan; by the end they truly deserve one another. The more serious pair of lovers, Hero (Lucy Faint) and Claudio (Zachary Powell) pale somewhat beside them. Branagh, however, manages to keep the performance in balance with a delicate hand. The fun and games have their darker side. That said, the scenes with the constable, Dogberry (Nicola Jayne Ingram), played by all three women, are slightly over the top.

In this production, to mark Shakespeare‘s 450th birthday, the ten actors make good use of full frontal acting and exchange knowing looks with the audience. The text is excellently spoken, monologues are well articulated, the word battles exchanged at a tremendous pace. This in itself ensures that two and a half hours pass at great speed.

Norbert Mayer
28 May 2014


Shakespeare clebrates his „450th“

To mark William Shakespeare‘s birthday – probably on 26 May 1564 – English Theatre director, Julia Schafranek, presents a spectacular, brilliant production of the comedy, „Much Ado About Nothing“; it is directed by Joyce Branagh, sister of the famous director. The young ensemble from Britain that she has assembled is superb and Branagh directs them without any of the usual alienation and updating so common nowdays; thus she is especially successful in the Dogberry Watch scenes. The play is about jealous brother Don John‘s attempts to prevent the marriage of fair Hero (Lucy Faint) to young Claudio (Zachary Powell, with great youthful panache) as well as about the ever rowing, quick-tongued pair, Beatrice and Benedick, who recognise their mutual love very late in the day (the resistance to love shown by Ellie Burrow and Alan J Mirren is a joy to behold). Special mention should be made of musician father, Balthasar (Jonathan Glew). Don Pedro of Aragon, Richard Hand is, as is his colleague, James Morley, a British TV star and both have taken delight in following director, Joyce Branagh, to Vienna.

28 May 2014


Much charm and slapstick about nothing on the carousel of love.
Enormous fun at Vienna’s English Theatre: Shakespeare‘s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing”

A large-scale production with ten actors to end the season: if in the Josefsgasse you are reminded of the films of Shakespeare specialist, Kenneth Branagh, you‘re not far wrong. His younger sister, Joyce Branagh was on set with him in 1993; now, she directs “Much Ado About Nothing”. The comedy is presented playfully and with charm, inspired, perhaps, by Giorgio Strehler.

On the one hand we have the slanderous intrigue between the paler pair of lovers, Claudio (Zachary Powell) and Hero (Lucy Faint) who are madly in love; said intrigue leads him to call her a whore before the assembled wedding party. On the other hand, the love-intrigue of that pair of nimble-witted, love-spurning acrobats, Benedick (Alan J. Mirren) and Beatrice (Ellie Burrow), who are nevertheless locked together in passionate aversion. Of course, the implication is that each is convinced the other is hopelessly in love with them. In this lunatic battle of the sexes, love and truth triumph, finally, over slight and deception; there‘s plenty of slapstick in the comic scenes played by the three women. The darker side of the comedy remains in the background during these entertaining two and a half hours.

28 May 2014


With Little Ado: Fun with Shakespeare!

2006 in Salzburg, David Bloch had almost all the men die – cruelly logical. At the Burgtheater, in the
same year, Jan Bosse turned them into monkeys in grass-skirts – childish. However, the original
comedy, „Much Ado About Nothing“, provides more than enough of wit and comment on men, women,lovers and haters.

Enjoy it in this form here and now at Vienna’s English Theatre, in a production directed by Joyce Branagh (her elder brother, Kenneth, filmed the play in 1993). This comedy of confusion about love and intrigue is here set in around 1800. Fitting costumes, adapted music (Beatles songs, plucked on a mandoline) and excellent Shakespeare English guarantee a great atmosphere, both on and in front of the stage.

Martin Lhotzky
18 June 2014