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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 10:55 GMT
Law and Branagh back on stage
Sadie Frost and Jude Law
Law is married to the actress Sadie Frost
British stars Jude Law and Kenneth Branagh have put aside their movie careers temporarily and returned to the stage.

Law, seen most recently in Steven Spielberg's film AI, is playing Doctor Faustus at the Young Vic in London while Branagh opens as Richard III on Tuesday in Sheffield.


Jude Law has little to offer except hoarse rant

Michael Billington, The Guardian
It is Branagh's first regular stage performance for a decade and comes after he secured his celebrity status as a film star and director.

Law's return to the stage, for a much-publicised 285 a week, has received mixed reviews.

Paul Taylor, of the Independent newspaper, said Law was "magnetic as this hollow, joylessly pleasure-seeking rake".

But Charles Spencer, of the Daily Telegraph, said his return to the stage offered only "competence".

"Law is one of those actors who never quite lets you forget he is performing," he wrote.

Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh: Stage return after 10 years
He added: "He is alarmingly lacking in the stage energy which might galvanise this difficult, broken-backed play into life."

Michael Billington, the Guardian's theatre critic, said that Law was a "conventional, vocally-strained Faustus".

"Law lacks the trained classical voice to match the part's great rhetorical flights and by the end when it comes to the prospect of eternal damnation he has little to offer except hoarse rant," he wrote.

Benedict Nightingale, writing in the Times, praised Law for catching the "central contradiction of his period: that curiosity, is a need and joy but also a danger and destroyer".

Demand

Branagh's return to the stage has prompted the biggest run in tickets in the Sheffield Crucible's 30-year history.

The play has been extended four days to cope with the demand.

The actor and director, who recently starred as Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on Channel 4, received an honorary degree last year from Birmingham University his popularisation of Shakespeare.

And he directed the award-winning stage comedy which pays homage to Morecambe and Wise, called The Play What I Wrote, which came out last year.

See also:

17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
A Law unto himself
06 Nov 01 | Arts
Branagh's West End triumph
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