'The Painkiller' at the Garrick Theatre

The Upcoming, 17 March 2016
By Laura Ewing
Thanks, Jane

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon have reunited with director Sean Foley to revive their side-splitting production of 'The Painkiller' at the Garrick Theatre. The play is the fourth in Branagh Theatre Company’s latest season of Plays at the Garrick and is a sharp and witty adaptation of Francis Veber's classic French farce.

The stars of the show, Branagh and Brydon, deliver an hour and a half of seamless comedy and slapstick routines that have the audience crying with laughter. Alongside actors Claudie Blakley, Marcus Fraser, Mark Hadfield and Alex Macqueen, the stellar cast tell the story of two contrasting male characters who find themselves in adjoining hotel rooms.

Brydon plays a failed photographer driven to the point of suicide, having been abandoned by his bored wife. Branagh, on the other hand, plays a suave and mysterious assassin who is unaware of the riotous and unlikely friendship about to be thrust upon him. The antics that follow are uproariously funny; with a concoction of lovers’ rivalry, an interrupting concierge and some serious doses of horse tranquiliser, theatregoers will be amazed by the physical comedy that takes place. If you have ever wanted to see a frantically dancing Kenneth Branagh and almost-naked Rob Brydon in heightened distress, then look no further!

The play runs for an enjoyable 90 minutes, with no interval. Audiences may balk at the prospect of no bar time, but the actors provide such energetic and all-consuming comedy that stopping them in their stride would be detrimental to the performance. The impeccable timing and liveliness that the cast and director have injected into this marvellous adaptation will keep viewers hooked until the very last minute.

It is safe to say that Branagh’s Plays at the Garrick are proving to be a deserved success, with next production 'Romeo and Juliet', commencing on 12th May, likely to deliver equal quality.

Verdict: 5 stars

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