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Paul Bhattacharjee joins Meera Syal in RSC Much Ado

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Paul Bhattacharjee has been cast as Benedick opposite Meera Syal’s Beatrice in the RSC's forthcoming Much Ado about Nothing which will open in Stratford in July before transferring to the West End in September.

The production is set in modern India and forms part of the RSC's World Shakespeare Festival.

Bhattacharjee’s previous work for the RSC includes Dominic Cooke’s Arabian Nights. In addition to his extensive theatre credits he has appeared in many films including White Teeth and is a regular in the BBC Asian network series Silver Street.

The production marks an RSC debut for Wolverhampton born writer, actor and comedian Meera Syal whose West End credits include Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine at the Trafalgar Studios and the title role in The Killing of Sister George at the Arts Theatre . Her comedy work on TV includes Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at Number 42.

Syal and Bhattacharjee have played opposite each other once before - 20 years ago in the BBC film said My Sister Wife which Syal also wrote.

"We played husband and wife then but with a far less happy ending than in Much Ado," recalls Syal

Much Ado about Nothing will be directed by Iqbal Khan who also directed Syal in Sister George. Khan directed Broken Glass at the Tricycle Theatre in 20120 which transferred to the Vaudeville the following year.

Set design will be by RSC Associate Designer Tom Piper and costumes by Delhi based designer Himani Dehlvi and the RSC is aiming for an immersive experience at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford where awnings, stalls and Indian music will grace the foyer.

Much Ado about Nothing runs at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from 1 August to 15 September 2012 (previews from 26 July) and at the Noel Coward Theatre, from 22 September to 27 October 2012.

- Andrew Rogers


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