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RSC Stratford preview: Much Ado About Nothing

By Barbara Goulden

Photographs of the stunning costumes and artwork designed for the Royal Shakespeare Company's new production of Much Ado About Nothing have been revealed.

Actors Michael Balogun and Akiya Henry will star as Benedick and Beatrice in this African-inspired interpretation of Shakespeare's most famous comedy which is due to open - covid permitting - on February 4 and run until March 12.

This time Shakespeare's much-loved comedy is being directed by Roy Alexander Weise who promises new twists on ancient themes as these "gods of love" take to the Stratford stage in West African and West Indian inspired costumes designed by Melissa Simon-Hartman, whose work featured in Beyonce's 2020 visual album, Black is King.

The couture pieces will stand alongside the artwork of UK-based Nigerian conceptual artist, Askio, who currently has an exhibition in Sloan Square, Knightsbridge, and loved collaborating with the director and cast.

He said: "For me, the image was about celebrating new interpretations of the beloved Shakespeare characters."

Much Ado is performed in five acts and centres on the timeless accusation of unfaithfulness, but this is not Othello, and all ends well.

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