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Joseph Millson is also an unusual Benedick: young and good-looking but clearly obsessed with Beatrice as proved by the way he urges Don Pedro to "talk not of her" when he himself does little else. Millson and Greig also hit the right note of self-discovery in the church scene, when their passionate kisses are interrupted by her injunction to "kill Claudio": Millson reacts with the right horror, as if slapped across the face."
The Guardian May 19, 2006 by Michael Billington
The production is blessed with as fine a Benedick and Beatrice as you'll be fortunate to find. Joseph Millson, a star in the recent Spanish Golden Age season, is simply sublime as Benedick, utterly in control of his material and conveying bewilderment and offended dignity like no one else.
Pete Wood What's On Stage May 06
"Tamsin Grieg's Beatrice and Joseph Millson’s Benedick make a sizzling pairing: intelligent, witty, and for all their faults, infinitely lovable......Greig and Millson’s lovers collide with all the teasing sensuality of two tango dancers....Millson, meanwhile, is a handsome, laddish commitment-phobe, who, discovering Beatrice’s love for him, allows himself to become so giddy with long-suppressed feeling for her that it’s impossible not to be moved."
The Times May 22, 2006 Sam Marlowe
"Millson is deliciously funny when in denial and breathtaking in his passionate tenderness at the end."
The Independent 28 May 2006 by Kate Bassett
"Joseph Millson is hilariously manic as Benedick, but also remarkably tender when he finally realises his love for Beatrice and gives up on his assertion that he will never marry."
BBC Coventry by 10/08/06 Colin Roobottom
"Any production of Much Ado About Nothing stands or falls by the chemistry between Beatrice and Benedick, and in Tamsin Greig and Joseph Millson the RSC has struck gold. Both performers are blessed with immaculate comic timing and a gift for physical clowning - not a particularly common combination - and their scenes together are a joy to behold."
British Theatre Guide Peter Lathan (2006)
Joseph Millson's Benedick protests with the best of them. He is deliciously over-emphatic. He has a dirty laugh and a high opinion of himself. He almost sobs when his ego is knocked - hilarious to behold. Elliott has a genius for comic detail (I assume it to be her discovery that it is impossible to say anything dignified while eating a banana at the same time. Try it and see.) But Benedick is at his most charming when most ridiculous. Eavesdropping on the news that Beatrice loves him, he scuttles, like a shocked cockroach, behind a huge pot plant. And, as he hears more giddy disclosures, his white face pops up and down between the leaves, unshaven as a convict, desperate as a fish: hooked.
The Observer Kate Kellaway 2006
For Much Ado, director Marianne Elliott goes to the pre-Castro Cuba of the 1950s, opening the way for a feast of salsa music, song and dance. But the best music of the evening is simply that of the sparring of Beatrice and Benedick.
Millson's Benedick, with his short hair and neat moustache, is every inch the bachelor cynic of the officers' mess. Beatrice's mocking admonishments are a new and unexpected challenge. With her aquiline profile, figure-hugging skirts and straight seams, Greig's barbs are so hilarious you scarcely realise how deep they have thrust.
The scenes in which each of them eavesdrops on how the other is totally infatuated allow the comic genius of each actor full rein -- Millson, ill concealed in a potted palm, springing up with a manic exuberance that Basil Fawlty could scarcely have matched, Greig setting off hooter and lights of the scooter behind which she's dementedly sought to hide.
When the darkening of the play at Hero's abortive wedding precipitates Beatrice's and Benedick's declaration of their love, Greig and Millson open up a whole new layer in their relationship without abandoning anything of its playful antagonism. At a stroke, Greig and Millson have lifted the RSC's playing of the comedies on to a higher level.
The Spectator by Patrick Carnegy, September 06
"I have seen actors from Alan Bates to Matthew Macfadyen play Shakespeare’s Benedick, but – although Mark Rylance in 1992 certainly did something more strangely miraculous with the role – Joseph Millson’s performance in the new RSC production strikes me as definitive. Handsome in voice and in person, he can carry the audience on his roar and draw it into his hush. The elements of wit, anger and vulnerability are thrillingly mixed in this actor: you feel them all when he says of Beatrice “Every word stabs”. He easily lets us laugh at him, so that he clowns the famous eavesdropping scene to the hilt, but next he can be so romantically stunned that, left alone, he can hardly walk a straight line. And it is he, in love, who learns best here to transcend wit: “A college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humour . . . or man is but a giddy thing”.
"The Financial Times May 22 2006 by Alastair Macaulay
"Joseph Millson is a delightful foil as Benedick. He sets off the quirky relationship between him and Beatrice perfectly. The couple dominate the stage as they dominate the play."
Manchester Confidential31/5/2006 by Richard Burbage
"Joseph Millson is excellent at his ripostes to Beatrice’s witty lines, his earlier bombast supplanted later by his sensitivity to her despair over the accusations against Hero."
"Here's a real treat, as fresh, funny and touching a production of Much Ado about Nothing as it has ever been my pleasure to witness..... ......Millson's Benedick initially seems like little more than a cynical dishevelled slob. Both are transformed in the great eavesdropping scenes, played with brilliant comic ingenuity here, when both are duped into believing they are loved by the other."
Daily Telegraph 22/05/2006 by Charles Spencer
"Not only is Tamsin Greig svelte and very Latin in appearance but her delivery is sharp and beautifully timed, whilst Joseph Millson is the perfect foil, with a tremendous sense of comedy - in the scene in which Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato gull him into believing Beatrice is in love with him, he is reminscent of John Cleese as Basil Fawlty at his most physical. In both cases their realisation that they are actually in love is beautifully handled and totally convincing."
British Theatre Guide 2006 by JD Atkinson
"The love scene in which she tells him “Kill Claudio” and he replies “Ha! Not for the wide world” always works but it is famous among Shakespeareans because it never works well enough. I’ve never known it better than in Marianne Elliott’s staging.
Since this was new in Stratford-upon-Avon in May, Tamsin Greig and Joseph Millson have reaccentuated the elements of sexual desire, loving intimacy, personal grief, ardent loyalty and fierce touchiness that bubble up through this crucial episode. A touch of pell-mell spontaneity has been lost. Instead, they are now more completely masters of each flickering change of feeling. Marvellous to see.
And the play still finds its climax in Millson-Benedick’s robust, grounded exclamation: “A college of wit-crackers cannot flout me out of my humour.” He has found something better than wit: “Prince, find thee a wife.”
FT December 2006
Above all, the irresistible Joseph Millson is the best Benedick I have ever seen: both hilarious and vulnerable.
Alistair Macauley FT December 2006
"The humorous sniping and brutally witty one-upmanship between Benedick and Beatrice is enacted with impeccable comic timing by Greig and Millson...With a strong cast and such spicy dialogue and music, Much Ado About Nothing makes for a very seductive evening out."
Kathryn Merritt London Theatre Guide Dec 2006
"But of course Much Ado stands or falls by its Beatrice and Benedick, and here the RSC has come up trumps by importing the delightful Tamsin Greig from The Green Wing on television and matching her with Joseph Millson, a notably handsome rising star in the company. When Greig’s Beatrice brutally commands Millson to come into dinner through a megaphone, he will not be put off his self-deceiving conclusions: “There’s a double meaning in that.” All the big laughs are in place. Those central duping scenes have to be done with freshness and spirit beyond hitting the right notes. Millson plays his to perfection, while Greig, “running like a lapwing” across the front of the stalls, sets off a motorbike horn, scrabbles about beneath a bench and finally stands dumbstruck at evidence of Benedick’s devotion. She is absolutely hilarious, and both she and Millson are sexy, attractive beasts at the onset of early middle age, adding poignancy to their denials of being in love."
Michael Coveney Dec 2006 Whats On Stage
"This is a maddening production: silly at times yet hugely intelligent, miscalculated in places yet excellent at the centre. I’ve seen wittier Beatrices and Benedicks than Tamsin Greig and Joseph Millson — Judi Dench and Donald Sinden, Susan Fleetwood and Roger Allam — but none who seethed and boiled more forcefully. From the first you’re aware that Millson is protesting far too much when he denounces marriage and, impelled by her insults and his own frustration, gets seriously angry at her."
Benedict Nightingale The Times December 2006
But what this production will be remembered for best are the two splendidly idiosyncratic star performances from Tamsin Greig and Joseph Millson as Beatrice and Benedick. The pair constantly strike sparks off each other, creating an electric atmosphere in which elaborately defensive verbal sparring gradually gives way to a glorious glow of love. What Elliott and the two performers make crystal clear is that there is history between this keenly intelligent pair, and that an earlier tendresse has ended in tears. Hence the tension, the wounding banter, the constant glimpses of pain beneath the wisecracks.
Neither actor is conventional hero or heroine material. Millson initially seems both slobbish and gauche, while Greig is all sharp angularity and contempt, with a hint of the embittered spinster about her. Yet in the brilliantly played scenes in which each is duped into believing they are beloved by the other, allowing them to acknowledge emotions they have hidden even from themselves, hilarity gives way to the wonder of romance.
And the gags are a joy. It will be a long time before I forget Millson's baffled face, gazing through the bedraggled pot plant behind which he is hiding, or Greig setting off the horn of a motor scooter, just when she is trying to be secret and discreet. There are many happy touches of classic Hollywood screwball comedy in this production.
Charles Spencer The Telegraph December 2006
But the play depends on the interaction between Beatrice and Benedick and here it is in perfect hands...Joseph Millson is an equally fine Benedick. As he bangs on about bachelorhood with vaunting smugness, you constantly feel the gentleman doth protest too much and, although he urges Don Pedro to "talk not" of Beatrice you notice he does little else.
But the two reluctant lovers are at their best in the church scene where Greig's incandescent fury at Hero's mistreatment is countered by Millson's disbelief that the Prince and Claudio have done wrong: in the passage following Beatrice's "Kill Claudio" you see how the erotic tension that has been created is suddenly in danger of falling apart.......
.....But the joy of Elliott's production lies in its ability to capture the ecstasy at the heart of Shakespearean comedy and my only serious complaint is that this magnificent production is on view for a month when it should be running for a year.
Michael Billington The Guardian December 2006
The handsome Millson is one of those rare actors who can combine the romantic and the ridiculous. It's beautifully clear from his expertly pointed and plosive delivery of the lines that this blustering bachelor is in denial about his own finer feelings. He gives an audience free access to his heart, even when he is clowning like mad, as he does in the eavesdropping scene, collapsing backwards in amazement with the tall plant he fondly imagines is providing him with cover.
And he has the knack of flashing acute sensitivity without letting up on the fun. There's real depth to the way this Benedick comes to understand that mocking wit can erect a defensive barrier against life: "a college of witcrackers cannot flout me out of my humour... since I do purpose to marry..."
Paul Taylor The Independent Dec 2006
"However, Millson gives as good as he gets. Handsome, lean and preening, he's amusingly arrogant until he's hoodwinked into love by his friends. That gives him a comically long way to fall in the famous "gulling" scene in which his friends fool him into believing Beatrice is crazy about him. His dumbstruck silent reactions while finding 101 ways to hide behind a potted plant are extravagantly funny.
The sheer power of the production peaks with the great ruined wedding scene. Claudio's public shaming of Hero in the church is truly upsetting. The resultant coming together of Beatrice and Benedick as he acquiesces to her heartfelt wish that he "Kill Claudio" is riven with conflicting emotions, which Elliott pushes to the hilt so that they and auds are both laughing and crying."
Variety December 2006
Director Marianne Elliott gives us a punchy and raunchy tale of the good, the bad and the truly wicked all found in abundance in this comedy. Tamsin Greig plays Beatrice as a delightful Diva, complete with black sunglasses, head scarf and plenty of attitude. She exudes chic confidence and has a perfected apathy towards men and yet she longs for a lover.
Joseph Millson as Benedick meets his match when he unwittingly pursues Beatrice under the impression that she is love with him. She too is led to believe that Benedick is in love with her. And so it goes on in a typical Shakespearian ruse... ...Watch out for the walking rubber tree plant, I think the Bard would have approved.
Peta David The Stage May 2006
While onetime TV name Millson tackles Benedick as if preparatory to the stardom which, on this evidence, he richly deserves. Playing someone who's been "turned over and over" by love, Millson cuts the perfect swaggering figure for an instantly recognisable bloke possessed of what today's world might call commitment issues.
Millson manages more than any Benedick in my experience to seem simultaneously macho and childlike, his bluster a safeguard against the cradling he surely wants and craves. He's exceptionally appealing gyrating to the bluesy sounds of Yvette Rochester-Duncan's nightclub singer, as if attuned to an inner groove that he keeps trying—unsuccessfully—to dampen down.
Matt Wolf Theatre.com December 2006