Four & five star reviews for Branagh & Dench in The Winter's Tale

Four & five star reviews for Branagh & Dench in The Winter's Tale

Updated On: May 1, 2018
By Nicki McIntyre
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    The Winter's Tale, the inaugural production of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's Season of Plays at the Garrick Theatre, has opened on London's West End to four and five star reviews.

    Starring Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench, The Winter's Tale received five stars from The Independent and The Telegraph, and four stars from The Guardian and Evening Standard.

    With five stars, Paul Taylor of The Independent called The Winter's Tale a "sublime production...  Branagh gives an extraordinarily searching portrayal of Leontes," while Dench "inspires" as Paulina.

    The Telegraph's Dominic Cavendish gave another five star review, calling it "brilliant... Has he still got what it takes? Abso-Branagh-lutely. This proves a right royal return in triumph" [and] "Dame Judi's powers remain undimmed."

    In addition to the two star draws, Cavendish reserved praise for the entire company; "Here is as fine an ensemble as the National or RSC could muster... There's splendid work from Michael Pennington as Paulina's doomed husband Antigonus; John Shrapnel as the conscience-driven courtier Camillo; Jimmy Yuill as the eccentric shepherd... John Dagleish as the peddler-trickster Autolycus... the hardy presence of Tom Bateman's Florizel and Jessie Buckley as a radiant Perdita."

    With four stars Michael Billington of The Guardian said: "In a production unafraid to hint at the darker elements of Shakespeare's fable, Branagh and Dench are surrounded by a first-rate team."

    He continued, "Miranda Raison lends the wronged and persecuted Hermione a shining self-belief, Michael Pennington brings a lifetime's Shakespearean experience to the role of the bear-pursued Antigonus and John Dagleish is a suitably nimble-fingered Autolycus. You go to see the stars and, in the words of a Sondheim song, in comes company."

    The Evening Standard's Henry Hitchings also gave four stars, declaring "The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's year-long residency in the West End begins with a well-spoken, elegant account of one of Shakespeare's tragicomic late romances... Branagh shares directorial duties with Rob Ashford, and their production emphasises the almost magical powers of Hermione's friend Paulina, who orchestrates the play's crucial act of redemption. In Dame Judi Dench's majestically authoritative interpretation, this beacon of good sense radiates a single-minded dignity."

    The Winter's Tale is playing now at the Garrick Theatre until Saturday 16 January 2016.