The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0531  Tuesday, 18 March 2003

From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 17 Mar 2003 15:44:18 -0800
Subject:        The Real Beale

"Theater is a series of creations, but so are the reputations of theater
artists--and making those reputations has traditionally been the charge
of theater critics.  Consider the case of Simon Russell Beale, recently
anointed as England's greatest living actor.  Beale's reputation was
wholly created by The New York Time's Ben Brantley.  Having now seen the
actor in five major roles, all but one directed by Sam Mendes, I am
puzzled by his exalted place in the theatrical pantheon.  Beale is a
technically proficient actor with the emotional range of, say, Peter
Ustinov, whom he somewhat resembles.  Like Ustinov's, his comic talents
are considerable, but even at a time when the English stage has grown so
impoverished, does Beale really deserve the crown of England's greatest
living actor?...Beale would have been perfectly at home playing Oswald
in King Lear--he is brilliant at scornful parts--just as he would have
been better situated as Osric than as Hamlet.  Never, to my mind, has an
actor been so consistently miscast in so many major roles."

Robert Brustein, The New Republic, March 24, 2003

"[A]lmost all the actors [in Sam Mendes' productions of Uncle Vanya and
Twelfth Night] contribute abundantly...The regrettable exception is the
highly touted Simon Russell Beale, who is effete and obese, which may be
forgiven, and unctuously, self-intoxicatedly hammy, which may not.  He
does get effects across, but one is always clobbered with his
contrivance, his calculatedness.  Vanya, who surely deserves our
sympathy--perhaps even Malvolio, ditto--never gets it."

--John Simon, New York Magazine, February 3, 2003

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