Theatre News

Branagh & Brydon Star in Lyric Belfast Painkiller

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon will star in new adaptation of the comedy The Painkiller as part of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast’s reopening season. Based on Francis Veber‘s farce and adapted by Sean Foley, the production will open on 29 September 2011 (previews from 23 September) and run until 16 October 2011.

The production names Branagh and Foley as creative producers and follows the pair’s 2001 collaboration The Play What I Wrote. That show, a musical farce about Morecambe and Wise, in which Foley starred with Hamish McColl and Eddie Braben, was directed by Branagh. The production won two Olivier Awards and transferred to Broadway in 2003.

Branagh returns to his hometown of Belfast 30 years after he performed in Graham Reid’s Billy. Having recently completed a role in the film My Week with Marilyn in which he plays Laurence Olivier and fronted two series of the BBC TV drama Wallander, Branagh was last seen in the West End in the title role of the Donmar Warehouse’s Ivanov in 2008.

Reopening on 1 May 2011 with a gala performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the new theatre reopens in a new £18 million building which is almost three times the size of the original.

Speaking about the production Branagh, who is currently in Los Angeles work on the film Thor, said: “The Painkiller is a remarkable play. Sean Foley, the director, is a fantastic talent, familiar to Belfast audiences. When he showed me his modern adaptation of Francis Veber’s farce, I knew I wanted to be involved. It’s also a particular thrill to partner on stage with the brilliant Rob Brydon.”

Welsh actor and comedian Rob Brydon will be well known to fans of Gavin and Stacey having played Uncle Bryn in the BBC comedy. A frequent panel show guest Brydon has also appeared in television dramas Oliver Twist, Heroes and Villains: Napoleon, The Way We Live Now and Marple as well as films 24 Hour Party People and A Cock and Bull Story.