Judi Dench is a commanding presence in London theatre and film. Kenneth Branagh is in that pantheon of revered actors, as well. Now the two are teaming up.
Joined by Richard Madden, Lily James and Rob Brydon, Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh will do a season of shows in London at the Garrick Theatre as the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. The series is called “Plays at the Garrick” and will include a stellar list of weighty titles:
William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”
John Osborne’s “The Entertainer”
Terence Rattigan’s “Harlequinade”
Francis Veber’s “The Painkiller”
William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”
The troupe will take up residency in the Garrick, following the example of John Gielgud’s theatre company, which did a complete season at the Queen’s Theatre in 1937. Gielgud and Co. did Richard II, The School for Scandal, Three Sisters and The Merchant of Venice that year.
“We wanted a playhouse,” said Branagh. “We wanted somewhere where our intimate and naturalistic approach to Shakespeare could be heard, where people could, in a 700-plus-seat theatre, see the whites of your eyes, but where the stage is just big enough to give us the epic quality some of these plays may need. Our intention is to engage with the audience.”
For “The Winter’s Tale,” Judi Dench will appear with Kenneth Branagh. Then Branagh will star in a role made famous by Sir Laurence Olivier in John Osborne’s “The Entertainer.”
Rob Brydon, formerly Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, will join Branagh in “The Painkiller,” a farce comedy by Francis Veber.
Branagh recently directed the film Cinderella, which starred Lily James and Rob Brydon. He brings the two together again in this company to do “Romeo and Juliet.”
In a brilliant move, the company will also do the comedy “Harlequinade,” which is about a classical theatre company staging “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Winter’s Tale,” which of course, they themselves are doing.