Branagh and Brydon Team Up In The Painkiller

Watch video of the pre-production press conference at the Lyric Theatre

Laughter at the Lyric Theatre beckons this coming autumn with The Painkiller, a new comedy co-produced by the theatre alongside one of Belfast’s most famous sons, Kenneth Branagh, and writer/director Sean Foley.

The Painkiller stars Branagh alongside comedian and chat show host, Rob Brydon, in the English language première of Francis Veber’s French comedy. Both actors attended a press conference earlier this week and expressed their admiration for the new Lyric and enthusiasm for Foley's adaptation.

'The Painkiller is a remarkable play,' said Branagh. 'Sean Foley is a fantastic talent, familiar to Belfast audiences. When he showed me his modern adaptation of Veber's farce, I knew I wanted to be involved.

'It's also a particular thrill to partner on stage with the brilliant Rob Brydon. I was lucky enough to begin my career with Graham Reid's Billy, in my home town of Belfast, exactly 30 years ago. I feel equally lucky to be back, and at the Lyric.'

Rob Brydon added: 'This is my first stage play and I couldn't be more pleased than to be working alongside as great a talent as Kenneth Branagh.'

In The Painkiller Brydon plays the downtrodden Brian Dudley, a man on a terrible mission. His wife just left him and suicide seems like the best option. Meanwhile, Branagh plays Ralph Smith, a smooth, easy-going hitman. He’s in the business of ‘pain removal’.

When the two men cross paths through an adjoining door of two lonely hotel rooms, chaos ensues. On any other day, Brian would have successfully ended things. On any other day, Ralph would have successfully ended someone.

The cast also includes Mark Hadfield, Stuart Graham, Claudia Harrison and Andy Moore. Both Graham and Moore make a welcome return to the Lyric after having performed in Brian Friel’s The Home Place and Martin Lynch’s Dockers respectively. Hadfield and Harrison will be making their Lyric debuts.

Gilly Campbell, Drama and Dance Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 'The Lyric has provided an outstanding cultural programme over the past 60 years, generating some of the most ground breaking and innovative theatre.

'It looks like that trend is set to continue in the new theatre with a very exciting season programme planned for the year ahead. We wish the Lyric every success and look forward to experiencing some of the best theatre Northern Ireland has to offer.'

The Painkiller, which is supported by Clear Pharmacy, runs at the Lyric Theatre on the Northern Bank Stage from September 23 to October 16. Book tickets via the Lyric website.