Preview: The Kenneth Branagh Company

The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company officially open their year-long residency next week so here’s a cheeky little preview to whet the appetite in advance of the reviews. Mild production spoilers abound…

 For his opening gambit, Branagh has opted to open two shows in rep – Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale starring Dame Judi Dench 

and also Terence Rattigan’s Harlequinade/All On Her Own starring Zoë Wanamaker
So The Winter’s Tale, you know, the one with “Exit, pursued by a bear”
except here…
It’s a lengthy affair
well perhaps more like a good three hours but still…
By contrast, Terence Rattigan’s Harlequinade is just over an hour
So it’s been bolstered with another (but unrelated) Rattigan short, All On Her Own, performed by Wanamaker immediately beforehand.
but it kinda works.
Totally on trend, The Winter’s Tale is one of three shows in London to currently feature
though executed somewhat more elegantly as it’s set in a vaguely Edwardian era
To get us through some of the longueurs, it’s good to see Branagh hasn’t lost his ability to say
There’s a possibility he and co-director Rob Ashford may have seen and been influenced by Propeller
though they don’t get anywhere near the same amount of emotional resonance
And last but not least, I have to comment on the view from the rear stalls – which is where the affordable seats that I bought were (£15 for row W) – with hardly any rake at all, sightlines are way too easily blocked by tall people, even those sat several rows in front, as we were at the mercy of the people immediately behind them constantly shifting for a better view. So, not the bargain I originally thought, more like seats to avoid, especially if certain cast members haven’t improved their vocal projection by opening night.
It wouldn’t be quite so bad if I didn’t have these same seats booked for the next four shows in the season there…
Oh well, it’ll be interesting to see how the plays are received by the critics – I’ll be publishing my reviews next weekend.


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