Deborah Hay as Beatrice and Ben Carlson as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. Courtesy of Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

There’s truth to the testy, inflamed love that defines one of Shakespeare’s wittiest couples—Beatrice and Benedick in the bard’s beloved rom-com
Much Ado About Nothing. Just ask the real-life
married couple, Canadian actors Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay, who star as feuding lovers in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production, which opened its 60th anniversary season Monday night. “We bicker in a different way,” says Hay, laughing, about the onstage pair’s “merry war” of wits. “We’re not using our jobs as a form of therapy!” Set in steamy Brazil at the turn of the 20th century—a believable stretch from the likewise hot-blooded Sicilians Shakespeare originally created— the sparring mates are tricked into
falling for one another in fatefully Shakespearean fashion.