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Renowned British theatre critic visits Muse Scholars

Renowned culture critic and broadcaster David Benedict, in New York to work on the authorized biography of Stephen Sondheim, spent an afternoon talking with the Muse Scholars during the Fall 2014 semester.

Benedict joined Richard Kaye, Hunter's Acting Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences, to lead a discussion about the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. The Muse Scholars had recently seen the play, in which stars Glenn Close and John Lithgow play the lead married couple that becomes vexed by the presence of several guests staying at their home. The Muses were eager to hear Benedict's thoughts on Albee's themes and his impressions of the play's latest production.

Benedict praised A Delicate Balance as Albee's "masterpiece," which he described as more subtle in its treatment of marital relations and existential dread than Albee's better known Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. He also critiqued the current show's acting, directorial, and costume choices, comparing them with those of other productions of the play he'd seen in the past.

Benedict read drama at Hull University and spent ten years as an actor and director. He joined the UK's The Independent in 1993 as the daily arts critic, subsequently becoming associate arts editor and theatre editor. He later became arts editor of The Observer, the founding critic and deputy arts editor of Bloomberg News and, in 2006, chief London critic of Variety. He has also written extensively for The Guardian, The TimesSunday TimesWall Street Journal EuropeEsquire and Elle.

Benedict is a founding editor of UK theatre broadcast website www.theatrevoice.com. He wrote and presented a film with Rufus Wainwright for BBC TV's The Culture Show and the BBC2 documentary on director/choreographer Matthew Bourne.

Photos: Upper left, David Benedict and Dean Kaye with Muse Scholars; Lower right, David Benedict