Dench's withering stare goes global in Branagh's 'Winter's Tale'

Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:31am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Her cutting words were written by William Shakespeare, but the withering stare the straight-talking Paulina focuses on co-star Kenneth Branagh's insanely jealous King Leontes in a new production of "The Winter's Tale" is pure Judi Dench.

Dench's stare, at the end of the first half, has had audiences sitting on the edge of their seats since the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's production of Shakespeare's late-life portrait of the wreckage wrought by jealousy opened this month.

It is a "moment I shall long remember," Guardian critic Michael Billington wrote.

The play will be broadcast live to cinemas in Britain and Europe on Thursday, with a delayed broadcast to the United States on Monday. It will be seen in Australia, Hong Kong, South Africa, China and Japan in January, publicists said.

"We're excited, there's a lot of excitement in the building about this live broadcast," Branagh, 54, told Reuters in an interview at the 710-seat Garrick Theatre where his company is in residence for six productions this year and next.

One of them will be "Romeo and Juliet" starring Lily James and Richard Madden, who played Cinderella and her Prince in the Branagh-directed remake of the Disney animated classic.

The Belfast-born Branagh says it is not so difficult as it might appear to make the transition between the movie world, where he also directed the action adventure "Thor" and filmed versions of Shakespeare, to the stage.

In the movies, he said, when a director heads to the set he may see 15 key people in one room, 200 in another and a cast and support crew of 4,000. But, he said, "You can find a human center to it all ... whether it's in front of a big bunch of people or in a much smaller environment."   Continued...

Director Kenneth Branagh arrives for the screening of the movie 'Cinderella' at the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany in this February 13, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos