Kenneth Branagh to direct and star in King Lear in London and New York


Kenneth Branagh is to star as King Lear in a production that he will also direct in London and New York.

The play will run for 50 performances at Wyndham’s theatre in the West End from October and then transfer to the Shed’s Griffin theatre in the US in autumn 2024.

It is produced by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company (KBTC) which presented a season of seven plays at the Garrick theatre in London from 2015-16 including John Osborne’s The Entertainer with Branagh in the lead role. In 2017, Branagh directed Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet in a limited-run production to raise funds for Rada. In 2021, KTBC’s planned production of The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan, starring and directed by Branagh, was cancelled due to Covid-related absences during rehearsals.

Branagh, who played Edgar opposite Richard Briers’ Lear in a 1990 touring production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, said in a 2019 interview that King Lear has a “sense of contained outrage by previously voiceless people” that remains pertinent in the modern political climate. The play, he added, explores a “tremendous lack of forgiveness … that is perhaps also something that our world is experiencing – a savage and judgmental and instant and violent division”.

It is the second star-powered, transatlantic Shakespearean production announced this week. Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma will perform in a new version of Macbeth, staged by director Simon Godwin in warehouses in Liverpool, Edinburgh, London and Washington DC.

The full cast for King Lear, presented by Fiery Angel and the Shed, is yet to be announced. Tickets for the London run – which previews from 21 October and has an official opening night on 31 October – will go on sale on 5 June.

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