Harlequinade / All On Her Own

Official London Theatre.co.uk, 9 November 2015
By Charlotte Marshall
Thanks, Pennie

Playing alongside 'The Winterís Tale', the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company troupe gets their hands on one of Terence Rattiganís lesser known plays, the short, sweet and deliciously silly 'Harlequinade'.

A 'Noises Off' for the 1940s, Branagh and co get to ham it up in hilarious measures with this tale of a chaotic touring theatre company staging a brilliantly dreadful production of 'Romeo And Juliet' where the star-crossed lovers are over the hill and the backstage gossip is far more dramatic than their amateur attempts on stage.

With hair swishing, drama queen stomping and egotistical strops aplenty, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company offers audiences a night of unapologetically light, ridiculous fun.

Whoís in it?
Branagh, as the aforementioned hair swisher, gets the most laughs setting up himself and the rest of the acting profession in a charismatic performance as the star of the show, the pretentious, jumped-up Arthur Gosport. Miranda Raison is hilarious as his clearly off-balance crazy-eyed wife Edna Selby, while Tom Bateman keeps it all together as the long suffering stage manager Jack Wakefield. But it is ZoŽ Wanamaker, with her brief fleeting appearances swishing on and off stage as the grand wardrobe mistress who has seen it all, who proves the real scene stealer with every dry remark and drunken babble.

What should I look out for?
A ream of theatrical in-jokes that work as well now as they would have when the play premiered in 1948 and stage fighting that is more dressage than duelling.

Wanamakerís monologue 'All On Her Own', which will precede all performances of 'Harlequinade'. Before all that silliness, her dark, stylish performance of this stark and surprising short piece is chilling.

In a nutshell?
Short, sweet and wonderfully silly, 'Harlequinade' is a perfect festive treat; light, fun and thoroughly entertaining.

Will I like it?
If youíre looking for something with heart, warmth and fun in spades, this is for you. Something and nothing, itís entertainment for entertainmentís sake performed by an incredible cast under the flawless direction of Branagh and Rob Ashford.


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