Friday, 18 March 2016

Review: The Painkiller at the Garrick Theatre

The Painkiller
Garrick Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 17th March 2016

Marking the fifth show in Kenneth Branagh's season at the Garrick Theatre, The Painkiller is a slick new comedy. Set in a hotel, Branagh takes to the stage as a hitman on a mission who is staying next door to a Swindon newspaper photographer, played by Rob Brydon, struggling to cope with separating from his wife (and of course there's an adjoining door between their rooms).

Prepare to see Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon as you've never seen them before; it doesn't take long for the duo to be on top of each other with their trousers around their ankles in the silliest of situations. One is a killer whilst the other is suicidal; it's a recipe for disaster, and the secret to a masterful comedic situation.

The Painkiller is directed by Sean Foley who also adapted the play from Francis Veberʼs classic French farce. Thankfully the piece has a speedy running time of ninety minutes; any longer and things would start to drag.

The supporting cast are terrific; Mark Hadfield makes a hilarious fast talking concierge (who finds himself slightly traumatised) whilst Claudie Blakley and Alex Macqueen have some terrific moments as Brydon's sassy ex-wife and irritating new partner.

There's mistaken identity, serious mishaps and stage fighting which left me with my hands covering my eyes. I wasn't crying with uncontrollable laughter, but I did chuckle throughout and gasp very loudly once or twice. The Painkiller makes an enjoyable evening's entertainment - it's nice to see something short and sweet which is just a bit of silly fun.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Painkiller at the Garrick Theatre until 30th April 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

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