In 1993 two stars of today began to shine in a production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Queens Theatre in London; director Matthew Warchus and actor Mark Rylance.
Marking a turning point in both the men’s careers, this well received production took the West End by storm, making a name for both the young director and young actor ahead of their career peaks.
The show also featured Mark Hadfield, who also went on to be a well-known theatre actor, appearing most recently in Jeeves and Wooster and Made in Dagenham.
This production of Much Ado was produced by Infinite Space and Thelma Holt and also featured choreography by Melly Still, music by Claire Van Kampen (married to Rylance) and designs by Neil Warmington.
Warchus’ production, set in the 1930’s, opened for press on July the 6th 1993 and ran
Leonato – Jonathan Newth
Don Pedro – Jack Ellis
Claudio – David Morrissey
Benedick – Mark Rylance
Beatrice – Janet McTeer
Hero – Rachel Joyce
Don John – Kevin Doyle
Margret – Christabelle Dilks
Gentlewoman – Rachel Lay
Borachio – Mark Hadfield
Conrade – Richard Katz
Dogberry – Gerard Kelly
Verges – Brian Shelley
Ursula – Jill Brassington
Friar Francis – Andrew Bridgmont
Watch – Dickon Tyrell, Graham Hubbard
Awards and Critical Reception
The 1993 production of Much Ado About Nothing received excellent audience and critics’ praise. The Evening Standard noted: “The production is staged in a huge blue tent, on whose flaps are painted sea and clouds. The world inside the tent, with its grass and deckchairs, cocktails and sliding panels of black blinds for the villainous Don John scenes suggests the pleasure-prone Thirties.”
This production also enabled Mark Rylance to win his first Laurence Olivier Award. Rylance fended off competition from Patrick Stewart, David Suchet and Henry Goodman, going on to win the 1994 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Play for his role as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.