Wednesday 12 November 1997
Beatrice and Benedick, Shakespeare's lovers who embark on a war of words as soon as they clap eyes on one another, are terrific roles but all sort of likely couplings have fared less than well. Even Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, then happily married, didn't shine in the film version. When Mark Rylance memorably played Benedick (to Janet McTeer's Beatrice) he adopted a broad Ulster accent which worked wonders, but the latest hit combination comes from Scotland with Elaine C Smith and Forbes Masson as sparring partners. This is that rare thing, Shakespeare with belly laughs, but without cheapness or compromise, the comedy brought fully and dynamically alive by a director and cast evidently revelling in its virtuosity. David Benedict
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