The revival of Harlequinade, directed by Branagh and Ashford, now playing at the Garrick Theatre (in a 100 minute experience that includes All On Her Own and no intervals) is something of a revelation. Mostly, Harlequinade is seen in conjunction with The Browning Version, one of Rattigan’s masterpieces, usually as a curtain raiser. To my mind, that combination has never worked and Harlequinade has always seemed pale and irksome by comparison with The Browning Version. But, here, released from the curtain raiser position, placed directly in the spotlight, splendidly set up by the intense darkness of All On Her Own, the play can shine.
Dench’s verse speaking is unrivalled. She picks each word and gives it full, accurate weight, landing the sense, purpose and exact emotion of every glittering phrase. She is wily, wise and wonderful. Her pained berating of Leontes when she tells him Hermione is dead is one of the greatest moments in theatre I have ever witnessed. So powerful, it knocks the breath from your body.
Tom Bateman, Jimmy Yuill, Kathryn Wilder, Jessie Buckley, John Shrapnel, Miranda Raison, Jack Colgrave Hirst, Hadley Fraser, and Michael Pennington will join the casts of The Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade being presented by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. The tow productions will play in repertory from 17 October 2015 to 16 January 2016. Kenneth Branagh said: “This is a formidable group of actors – they combine fantastic experience in Shakespeare and comedy, with a youthful energy and brilliance that I’m excited to welcome to our season.” Tom Bateman will play Florizel and Jack Wakefield, Jessie Buckley will play Perdita and Muriel Palmer, Jack Colgrave Hirst will play the Clown and Tom Palmer, Hadley Fraser will play Polixenes and First Halberdier, Michael Pennington will play Anitgonus, Zoe Rainey will play Emilia, Miranda Raison will play Hermione and Edna Selby, John Shrapnel will play Camillo and George Chudleigh, Kathryn Wilder will play … Read more