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After 'Thor,' Kenneth Branagh heading back to theater

January 20, 2011 |  9:58 am

Branagh "Thor," the eagerly awaited film version of the Marvel Comics favorite, makes its way into U.S. theaters in May following months of slow-build fan hype. Paramount's early-summer tent-pole movie is directed by Kenneth Branagh, the Shakespearean veteran who is making his first foray as director into the action blockbuster genre.

No doubt directing the $150-million movie must have been quite a chore for Branagh, who also is working in the 3-D format for the first time. So it's understandable that for his follow-up project, Branagh will be returning to his roots on the stage in a production of the play "The Painkillers" at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, according to a report in the Stage UK.

The stage comedy, originally written by Francis Veber and adapted from the French by Sean Foley, is set to start performances in September in Belfast, which happens to be the city where Branagh was born. Branagh will star in and produce the play, but Foley is expected to direct. "The Painkillers" will inaugurate the Lyric Theatre Belfast's new multimillion-dollar facility.

The last time Branagh appeared on stage was three years ago in Chekhov's "Ivanov," produced by the Donmar Warehouse. The play was adapted by Tom Stoppard and directed by Michael Grandage.

Branagh's biggest claim to fame has been his film versions of Shakespeare plays, including "Henry V," "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Hamlet." Perhaps his experience on "Thor" will whet his appetite for a high-tech Bard adaptation. "Macbeth" in 3-D, anyone?

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— David Ng

Photo: Kenneth Branagh on the set of "Thor." Credit: Marvel

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