(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 11/9.)
Enter, greeted with a hush of anticipation, Sir Kenneth Branagh. He was once the golden boy of the British stage. Now the ever-enterprising Belfast-born hero has weighed anchor in the West End for a year, returning to his roots after several decades of focus on film and television.
He launches his artistically bold, commercially astute venture with what on paper looks the most sizzling hot-ticket of six shows: The Winter’s Tale. He takes the lead as the jealousy-seized Leontes alongside the great (Dame Judi Dench), the good (Miranda Raison) and the more than promising (Jekyll and Hyde star Tom Bateman).
Although Branagh hasn’t been a total stranger to theatreland since he set out to make his name in Hollywood – he was last here with Chekhov’s Ivanov in 2008 – London hasn’t seen him tackle the Bard since 1992 (a reprise of Hamlet for the RSC). A moment of high drama, then. Has he still got what it takes? Abso-Branagh-lutely. This proves a right royal return in triumph.
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