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Review: All On Her Own and Harlequinade

Kenneth Branagh's other offering pairs two little-known Terence Rattigan shorts.

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Kenneth Branagh's other offering pairs two little-known Terence Rattigan shorts. In the first, Zoe Wanamaker is in schizophrenic form as a Hampstead widow seemingly possessed by the ghost of her recently deceased, working-class husband. The piece works as a sardonic portrait of marriage and as a brief foray into the psychology of grief. Wanamaker, meanwhile, terrifically segues between the accents and personalities of the spouses.

She returns with Branagh in Rattigan's very funny, post-war comedy, the target of which is the vanity of actor managers such as, well, Branagh. He plays Arthur Gosport who, well into middle-age is feeling a tad too old to be playing his current character, 17-year-old Romeo. Especially as rehearsals are interrupted by a girl who claims to be his daughter, and who has brought along his newborn granddaughter, too.

Branagh certainly gets kudos for ridiculing his profession's vanity. But, of course, if parody is a form of flattery, it surely takes a degree of vanity to send yourself up.

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