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A new theatre company led by actor-director Kenneth Branagh is set to take over residence at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End from October 2015 to November 2016. Named The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, their first season will include a mix of classic plays, comedies and new work.
Working alongside artistic associates director Rob Ashford and designer Christopher Oram, this year long season will see performers such as Rob Brydon, Judi Dench, Lily James and Richard Madden take to the Garrick Theatre stage.
Actor and director Kenneth Branagh was last seen in the West End in the Donmar's 2008 production of Chekhov's 'Ivanov'. As a director, his work on film has been celebrated internationally – including his versions of 'Henry V', 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'Othello'.
2013 saw his first collaboration with director Rob Ashford, as the pair brought a new version of Macbeth to Manchester, which was later screened globally and enjoyed a successful run in New York. This new season will see them working together on a number of different plays, with Branagh starring once again in the central roles, alongside an all star cast, with many names yet to be announced.
The Winter's Tale
The first production of the season will be a new imagining of Shakespeare's late problem play starring Kenneth Branagh as Leontes and Dame Judi Dench as Paulina. Running from 17 October 2015 to 16 January 2016 this tragicomedy is one of Shakespeare's most intricate works, blending the pastoral world of Bohemia with King Leontes' Sicilia – highlighting how jealously and obsession can be overcome by the power of forgiveness and redemption.
Judi Dench returns to the West End following her recent role in the Michael Grandage Company's 'Peter and Alice'. The production will be co- directed by Rob Ashford.
A rare chance to see Terrence Rattigan's one act comedy, this second production will run in rep alongside 'The Winter's Tale' from 24 October to 13 January 2016. Branagh will once again star in this backstage farce in a production co-directed by Rob Ashford.
Set backstage where a theatre company are preparing to present 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'The Winter's Tale', this face follows a husband and wife acting duo who are thrown into disarray as secrets from the past come to the foreground, proving that sometimes the best drama occurs behind the scenes.
This will be followed by the London transfer of new comedy adapted and directed by Sean Foley from the original French farce by Francis Veber, which runs from 5 March 2016 to 30 April 2016.
Originally presented at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, the London production will reunite Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon in a new farce that follows two men in two lonely hotel rooms, with one adjoining door. One man is a killer, and the other wants to die. What could possibly go wrong?!
The production will be directed by Sean Foley whose recent West End credits include 'Jeeves and Wooser – Perfect Nonsense', 'I Can't Sing!' and 'The Ladykillers'. Comedian Rob Brydon returns to the West End following a stint in 'A Chorus of Disapproval' at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2012.
Romeo and Juliet
The second Shakespeare production in the season will reunite director Kenneth Branagh with Lily James and Richard Madden, the stars of his recent live action film 'Cinderella'.
Running from 12 May 2016 to 13 August 2016, this heartbreaking tale of forbidden love is one that has inspired generations of adaptations and thoroughly deserves to be seen in its original form. 'Game of Thrones' star Richard Madden plays opposite 'Downton Abbey's' Lily James as Shakespeare's star crossed lovers.
The final production in the season will see Kenneth Branagh take on the role of Archie Rice in John Osborne's classic bleak comedy from 20 August 2016 to 12 November 2016.
Known as one of the prime examples of kitchen sink realism, the play blends the declining world of British music hall with a striking domestic set in post-war Britain. Archie Rice's comic act is as tragic as his home life, and Osborne's celebrated play acts as a window into the decline of British Imperialism following the Second World War. The production will be directed by Rob Ashford.
Tickets for all productions are now on sale.