Meera Syal, an experienced and well-beloved TV and film actress, lacks the stage presence and confidence needed to deliver a convincing Beatrice. Shakespeare's wit falls flat when Syal delivers her commentary on Benedict: "he wears his faith but as / the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the / next block." Paul Bhattacharjee’s Benedick gains speed in the second half, becoming a dopey love-struck puppy, but proves unlikable in the beginning. His stoic appearance suggests the absence of a capacity to love, not the occasion for it. A bright star in the production was Anjana Vasan, whose plays several small roles but commands attention, full of vibrant energy.
Though still in previews, these actors have a lot of hard work ahead of them to illuminate and clarify the text and their character's relationship. The visual flash can only disguise so much of their weakness.