Class act

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The Independent Online

For those of us who queued three or four hours to get tickets to see Simon Russell Beale at the London's Donmar Theatre and still failed to get any, it's little consolation to know that he has gained the Evening Standard award for best actor and Sam Mendes a statuette for directing him. But for anyone who loves the stage, it can only be a cause of celebration that the theatre is alive and kicking and can still look to the oldest combination of a first-class actor and a first-class director to pack them in.

Russell Beale is a great professional, perhaps the finest of his generation, not a celebrity or a Hollywood star. The plays he is in – Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night – are standard classics not trendy new pieces by Irish wordsmiths. And people want to see them. The only question is why our crisis-ridden national repertory companies can't achieve the same.