Branagh to topline ‘Painkiller’

Sean Foley adapts Francis Veber farce for stage

Kenneth Branagh will return to the stage this fall at the Lyric Theater, Belfast, in “The Painkiller,” a French farce by Francis Veber in a new adaptation by Sean Foley, who also helms.

The production, one of the highlights of the theater’s first season in its new £18.1 million ($28.8 million) building, runs Sept. 23-Oct. 16, with a Sept. 29 opening. Belfast-born Branagh began his career at the same theater 30 years ago. His co-star is TV comedy writer-performer Rob Brydon.

Branagh’s last stage appearance was playing the title role of Anton Chekhov’s “Ivanov,” helmed by Michael Grandage in the Donmar West End season in 2008. He was due to helm the Jude Law “Hamlet” in the same season but pulled out to direct the 3D movie “Thor,” skedded to open May 6 in the U.S.

Branagh and Foley’s first collaboration, the Olivier award-winning “The Play What I Wrote,” was nominated for a Tony for special theatrical event.

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