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The Painkiller hero image
The Painkiller hero image
    Bot an opportunity for a gag, visual or verbal, that’s passed up
    The Daily Telegraph
    Branagh clowns around to score a hit as farce’s hilarious hitman
    The Evening Standard

The Painkiller tickets

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.

Performance dates: 20 Apr 2016 - 20 Apr 2016

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Age recommendation: Recommended for 14+

Special notice: 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.

9 seat view photos

SeatPlan Recommends: You’ll want to see as many of the visual gags on offer in The Painkiller as possible – so be aware that the Garrick is tricky for sight-lines due to the many pillars in the stalls section.

Latest audience reviews

What a privilege to see Kenneth Branagh in London at such close proximity. I will never forget this wonderful... More

harrietlangdown 25 Jul 2017

What a privilege to see Kenneth Branagh in London at such close proximity. I will never forget this wonderful evening of laugh out loud hysteria and admiration of him and his magnificent theatre company!

harrietlangdown 25 Jul 2017

This play was amazing. I loved it! I loved the comedy teamed with the drama and all actors especially... More

fifilou Top 100 reviewer19 Mar 2017

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 Top 100 reviewer19 Mar 2017
SDTopper 13 Nov 2017

A fan of Kenneth Branagh it was a farce reminiscent of the Brian Rix Whitehall farces. Both Kenneth... More

elaineshepherd 25 May 2017

A fan of Kenneth Branagh it was a farce reminiscent of the Brian Rix Whitehall farces. Both Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon were excellent.

elaineshepherd 25 May 2017

This was a typical farce and pretty hilarious. I had never seen Kenneth Branagh live and he amazed me,... More

nightowl 29 Oct 2016

This was a typical farce and pretty hilarious. I had never seen Kenneth Branagh live and he amazed me, I had no idea he could be such a physical comedian!

nightowl 29 Oct 2016

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

GailBishop 19 Oct 2016
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