Supporters of Simon Russell Beale for the artistic directorship of the National Theatre have licked their wounds after Nicholas Hytner's victory, and now have fresh hopes following the announcement that Sam Mendes is to leave the Donmar in December 2002.
In the flurry of articles that have appeared in the aftermath of Mendes' announcement — including The London Times and The Telegraph today — the angle has always been on which director might succeed at the Donmar, and at the Almeida, too. The idea of an actor taking the helm of a theatre company never seems to get a look, despite the fact that the National was founded by one of the twentieth century's greatest actors, Laurence Olivier, and that more recently Kenneth Branagh ran, as actor-manager, the Renaissance Theatre Company.
Russell Beale's performances are always referred to in terms of his intelligence as well as his acting ability.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow