The Painkiller at Garrick Theatre tickets
The Painkiller at Garrick Theatre tickets

The Painkiller has closed

This show has closed

Overview

As part of the inaugural season for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, the inimitable Branagh and comedy legend Rob Brydon starred in The Painkiller, an adaptation of Francis Verber’s darkly hilarious farce Le Contrat. A master of comedic double-acts, Verber places two very different men in adjacent hotel rooms. One of them is a trained assassin, the other is desperate to commit suicide. What could possibly go wrong?

Branagh played Ralph, a hit-man hired to assassinate an important witness in a trial at the court house opposite the hotel. Brydon was the “one-man natural disaster zone” Dudley, a cuckolded local press photographer hell-bent on hanging himself in the shower. But when he fails and just pulls the pipes out of the wall, he and Ralph cross paths, and misunderstandings, cases of mistaken identity and hilarious physical comedy ensues. Testament to the skills of Branagh and Brydon, hidden amongst the low-brow gags are moments of poignancy, and the audience left the theatre with their sides aching while feeling unexpectedly moved.

The Painkiller was directed by the Olivier award-winning Sean Foley, who previously collaborated with Branagh on The Play What I Wrote to great success and critical acclaim. Branagh is best known for his stage and film appearances in works by Shakespeare, including Henry V, Hamlet, and As You Like It; though younger audiences will remember his performance as Gilderoy Lockheart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Stand-up comedian Rob Brydon, shot to fame as Bryn West in the TV series Gavin and Stacey and has since hosted several panel shows and recently starred in The Trip (2010) with Steve Coogan.

Further cast members included Claudie Blakley as Michelle, Marcus Fraser (The Pirate Queen) as Policeman, Mark Hadfield (Made in Dagenham) and Alex Macqueen (The Inbetweeners) as Dent.

The Painkiller opened on 5th March 2016 at the Garrick Theatre and played there until 30th April 2016.

Recommended for

Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to see two celebrated actors up-close. Fans of Verber’s other works, such as Le Dîner de Cons, will find the playwright’s trademark style faithfully transferred by Sean Foley.

Age Recommendations: Recommended for 14+

Dates and times

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Opened: 05 Mar 2016
Press night: 17 Mar 2016
Booking from: 20 Apr 2016
Booking until: 20 Apr 2016

Location and map

Garrick Theatre
Charing Cross Road
London, WC2H 0HH

40 Reviews Add review

To be quite frank - the good reviews are valid. Not just that, I'd be shocked if they wouldn't exist. The Painkiller, as silly... More

steffigolightly 165 cm, 71 reviews, 1 helpful vote

To be quite frank - the good reviews are valid. Not just that, I'd be shocked if they wouldn't exist. The Painkiller, as silly as its humour is, at times, if hilarious and heartwarming at the same time, with the audience laughing for minutes at a time. There's an immense focus on subtlety (Kenneth Branagh's facial expressions are pure gold) as much as on the brasher, more obvious jokes. Chock-full of surprises, it's well worth the visit and when you leave the theatre, you'll probably smile for the rest of the day... and if that's not what a good comedy is all about, then I don't know.

steffigolightly 165 cm, 71 reviews, 1 helpful vote

This play was amazing. I loved it! I loved the comedy teamed with the drama and all actors especially the two leads did the most i... More

fifilou 5"7, 175 reviews, 3 helpful votes

This play was amazing. I loved it! I loved the comedy teamed with the drama and all actors especially the two leads did the most incredible job. It was entertaining it was fast pace and I loved the split set. It was effective in creating the illusion of the two rooms and to have the mirror of the two constantly there was brilliant. A fantastic new comedy that I hope to see again!

fifilou 5"7, 175 reviews, 3 helpful votes

The show is absolutely hilarious! I won't spoil it for you, I just encourage you to get tickets and GO!

angelakeating 27 reviews, 4 helpful votes

The show is absolutely hilarious! I won't spoil it for you, I just encourage you to get tickets and GO!

angelakeating 27 reviews, 4 helpful votes

A hilarious farce that had me in stitches from beginning to end. Could not understand the people that weren't laughing! An absolut... More

susannahrosemn 5"3, 127 reviews, 4 helpful votes

A hilarious farce that had me in stitches from beginning to end. Could not understand the people that weren't laughing! An absolute masterclass in comic acting from Kenneth Branagh, who is one of the funniest actors I have seen on stage. He was equally funny in Harlequinade, but the fast-paced direction in this had me cracking up. Excellent all round - the set design was amazing and very innovative!

susannahrosemn 5"3, 127 reviews, 4 helpful votes

Brilliantly funny - great physical comedy from both Rob Brydon and Kenneth Branagh!

GailBishop 5'6", 64 reviews, 15 helpful votes

Brilliantly funny - great physical comedy from both Rob Brydon and Kenneth Branagh!

GailBishop 5'6", 64 reviews, 15 helpful votes

I'm not a huge fan of farce, but this play was very cleverly staged and wonderfully performed. Kenneth Branagh in particular was ... More

londontheatrefan 5'4", 173 reviews, 5 helpful votes

I'm not a huge fan of farce, but this play was very cleverly staged and wonderfully performed. Kenneth Branagh in particular was superbly funny!

londontheatrefan 5'4", 173 reviews, 5 helpful votes

Hilarious show, really worth it.

Anonymous User 4473 reviews, 572 helpful votes

Hilarious show, really worth it.

Anonymous User 4473 reviews, 572 helpful votes

I'm not a huge fan of farce, but this play was very cleverly staged and wonderfully performed. Kenneth Branagh in particular was ... More

londontheatrefan 5'4", 173 reviews, 5 helpful votes

I'm not a huge fan of farce, but this play was very cleverly staged and wonderfully performed. Kenneth Branagh in particular was superbly funny!

londontheatrefan 5'4", 173 reviews, 5 helpful votes

These seats were a bargain at £15 each, and for any show but The Painkiller they might have been okay with just a bit of leaning o... More

louisetaylor1 4 reviews, 2 helpful votes

These seats were a bargain at £15 each, and for any show but The Painkiller they might have been okay with just a bit of leaning over now and then. However - this play splits the stage in half and moves the action between each side, and we couldn't see anything at all when the action moved to right of stage. For a play that relies so heavily on visual humour, this meant we missed out on 50% of the performance. We felt the Garrick should have reconsidered selling these seats for this particular show.

louisetaylor1 4 reviews, 2 helpful votes