Robin Simpson: “it’s an absolute pleasure to perform as one of his greatest characters”

Headshot of Robin Simpson

Typically described as a romantic comedy, Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is brought to The Lowry, Tue 7 – Sat 11 May, by Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre. Actor Robin Simpson plays the character Benedick, a bachelor who has sworn off love and marriage. Simpson has many a theatre credit to his name and has also been spotted in some of TV’s finest soap operas. We catch up with him before he comes to The Lowry in the bard’s renowned classic.

‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is one of Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedies. What’s your favourite modern day ‘Rom Com’ and why?

Not a romantic comedy but one of my favourites is Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. The build up to the first kiss between Jonathan Price and Kim Greist is brilliantly done and reminds me of the pay-off we have in our production between Benedick and Beatrice.

Thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599 by Shakespeare, how has this production been updated for a modern day audience?

It hasn’t. It doesn’t need updating. The characters and comedy are just as good now as they were then. It works. The sexual politics are a little old fashioned however and so setting the play some time in the past is advisable, which we have.

Inspired by the North of England’s diverse voices, cultures and heritage what regional twist has Northern Broadsides put on this production?

It’s set in the north at the end of the 2nd world war and uses familiar images, people and voices from that setting. Land-girls and RAF uniforms, etc… Most of the actors are using their natural accents in the production rather than putting on a voice.

You play the character Benedick, what’s your favourite line?

I play Benedick, a soldier returning from war and a confirmed bachelor. He has a love/hate relationship with Beatrice and they like to bicker and throw barbs at each other. It’s obvious to the audience that they’ll end up together at the end, however.

Why is it important that we continue to host Shakespeare’s work on our stages?

I don’t think we do it out of duty. There are many of his works that aren’t done that often because they are lesser works. However, his best plays are works of genius and have survived 400 years because of that. People still want to see them performed. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be programmed. Much Ado is one such play. It is genuinely funny with fantastic characters. It is a rom-com from which many modern movie rom-coms have borrowed the template. It is a masterpiece and it is an absolute pleasure to perform as one of his greatest characters.

Much Ado About Nothing’ is brought to The Lowry by Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre. The show will run at the Salford venue Tue 7 – Sat 11 May 2019. For more information and tickets visit the website or call box office on 0843 208 6000.