Archivo de la etiqueta: Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh dances in Olivier’s shoes in The Entertainer

It’s one of the most iconic roles in post-war theatre: Archie Rice, the clapped-out music-hall act who stands at the demoralised heart of John Osborne’s The Entertainer: the bankrupt exponent of a dying art-form in a country reeling from the Suez Crisis. Laurence Olivier created the part. Now, almost 60 years on, it’s the turn of Kenneth Branagh.



How does he fare? How does he compare? To some, that line of inquiry might sound moribund. And yet Branagh, 55, has been likened to Olivier more than any other actor of his generation. His early success, his many Shakespearean roles too, makes it hard not to detect a cry of “For God, for Larry and for England!” in this choice, concluding his year at the Garrick.

The blunt truth? Olivier’s – to judge by the 1960 film – is the superior performance, blessed with a mercurial vitality and dangerous mischief that the benign Branagh can’t match. Yet Sir Ken goes some considerable and impressive way to stamping his own authority and personality on the part.

Literally so: the opening vignette replaces Osborne’s bleak scene-setting, introducing the brawling back-streets of a northern coastal town, with the sight of Archie alone, his back to us, head lowered, towel round his neck like a boxer readying for the next round. He conducts a slow tap-dance with a series of stomps and much deliberate, fancy leg-work, joined by a quartet of show-girls in negligées, tip-tapping in the shadows.

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The action switches to the Rices’ draughty, down-at-heel digs, though designer Christopher Oram keeps everything within a decayed stage milieu: there are props and costumes ranged to one side; we’re in a replica proscenium-arch theatre, rafters poking through plasterwork. When Archie jokes “Don’t clap too hard, it’s a very old building”, the gag hits the mark.

Osborne elided the ailing world of the variety hall with microcosmic slices of troubled family life, creating a portrait of a disintegrating artist and a state-of-the-nation play at the same time. Branagh acquits himself with distinctive aplomb in each sphere but it’s his stage-business that captivates most.


L-R: Kenneth Branagh, Greta Scacchi, Gawn Grainger CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

Putting one in mind of Eddie Izzard with his red-lipsticked lips and toady grins, he’s convincing as a resolutely smiling trouper staring down the barrel of deadly audience indifference. Whether shuffling dandily along in tuxedo, dickie-bow tie and boater, cane-a-twirl, or camply dishing out Osborne’s knowingly excruciating, innuendo-laden repartee, you grasp why he’s top of the bill, yet never truly made it.

Director Rob Ashford gives us plenty of salacious suggestions of the “nude revue” that Archie is trying to shackle to his sinking vaudevillian mast. In terms of our own historical moment – with trouble again flaring in the Middle East, and the poignant demise of the Rice’s soldier son Mick hitting home – the revival is timely. But Ashford’s production could do with a more spirited tempo to compensate for the dialogue’s dated, often schematic quality, while there’s no getting around the abundant (to many ears today offensive) prejudice.


Kenneth Branagh as Archie, with Sophie McShera as Jean CREDIT: JOHAN PERSSON

There’s fine support from Greta Scacchi as Archie’s care-worn, cheated-on wife Phoebe, and Gawn Grainger as his intemperate ex-showman father Billy. Jonah Hauer-King displays promise too as Archie’s conscientious-objector son Frank, as does Sophie McShera as his passionate, politicised daughter Jean.

The evening is bookended by beautiful, solitary silhouettes of Archie and, for all the shadow cast by Olivier, Branagh triumphs in style. Those seeking a night of laugh-out-loud entertainment, though, be warned: if they do, the joke’s on them. National decline and personal failure is, now as then, at root a serious business.



The Entertainer  is playing at the Garrick Theatre, London until Nov 12. 

Book now to avoid disappointment: visit  Telegraph Tickets  or call 0844 871 2118.

Live broadcast to cinemas on October 27.



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Publicado por en agosto 31, 2016 en Actors, Theatre


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Macbeth: “A good man” played by Kenneth Branagh

Macbeth: “A good man” played by Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh‘s name has been mentioned several times in this blog and this will not be the last, that’s for sure. I feel a deep admiration for his work. One of my dreams, not yet completed, is to see him in the theater. Last year, Sir Kenneth Branagh played masterfully on stage to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I had no chance to see it so I will refer to it stealing the words of some lucky yes they could.

The Manchester International Festival itself said:

His interpretation of Macbeth as good man declining into desolation and despair was exhilarating. Audiences sat inches from the action as sparks actually flew in the heat of battle.

Macbeth (Kenneth Branagh) y Lady Macbeth (Alex Kingston) - Foto de Johan Persson.

Macbeth (Kenneth Branagh) y Lady Macbeth (Alex Kingston) – Foto de Johan Persson.

New York Times:

Fast, furious and unstoppable, time keeps rushing forward in this Macbeth, knocking the breath out of everyone, audience included.

Directors Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh. Photo by Johan Persson.

Directors Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh.
Photo by Johan Persson.


Blood, mud, fire and rain filled the space in this St. Peter’s in Ancoats, a place never before used as a theater.

Here I leave the trailer of this production. A little piece of glory for those who could not live the emotion of being face to face with these great actors and actresses.


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Publicado por en marzo 2, 2014 en Actors, Shakespeare, Theatre


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Kenneth Branagh & Macbeth

Kenneth Branagh & Macbeth

For MIF13, Kenneth Branagh returns to the stage as Macbeth, for his first Shakespeare performance after more than a decade.

Directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, this tragic tale of ambition and treachery unfolds within the walls of an intimate deconsecrated Manchester church.

Kenneth Branagh has long been lauded as one of the great Shakespearean interpreters. His skills as a writer, director and actor have garnered international acclaim across the disciplines of stage, film and television, and he is the only man to be nominated in five different categories for an Academy Award. He last performed Shakespeare when he played Richard III at the Sheffield Crucible in 2002. Recent stage performances as Edmund at the National Theatre and Ivanov for the Donmar played to great acclaim. In 2011 he completed a sell-out run of the hit comedy The Painkiller at the Lyric Theatre in his home city of Belfast.

Alex Kingston co-stars as Lady Macbeth. Kingston, who won critical acclaim in the title role of the PBS miniseries “Moll Flanders,” joined television’s top-rated, “ER” during its fourth season, as the spirited surgeon ‘Dr. Elizabeth Corday.’ She also reprised her role on “ER” along with the rest of the original cast, for the final episodes of the series. Kingston starred in “Hope Springs,” a new series on BBC One,” as well as the ITV mini-series “Lost in Austen.” She has also been seen on the highly successful British series “Dr. Who” and was in the independent film “Like Crazy.”


Rob Ashford has directed and choreographed productions on both sides of the Atlantic. From collaborations with the Donmar Warehouse and National Theatre, to Broadway, Ashford has a string of nominations and awards to his name including an Olivier Award for Anna Christie and nominations for A Streetcar Named Desire and Parade (Donmar Warehouse) and a Tony Award for Thoroughly Modern Millie and nominations for productions including Evita and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He also won an Emmy for his choreography at the 81st Annual Academy Awards.

Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh

Text via: Manchester review

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Publicado por en julio 6, 2013 en Actors, Shakespeare, Theatre


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