Many will be drawn to see The Winter's Tale, the first play in Kenneth Branagh's season at The Garrick by his name and by Dame Judi Dench, and rightly so.

He is accomplished in his role of Leontes, King of Sicily who's festively-decked home we are welcomed into with laughter, presents and chocolate box charm. He handles one of the most drastic mood swings in existence with aplomb, making believable the king's transformation from happiness to suspicion and then mad cruelty as he becomes convinced his pregnant wife Hermione is having an affair with his childhood friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia.

Dame Judi is perfect casting in the role of Paulina, the feisty noblewoman who refuses to be kowtowed by the powerful men around her but remains measured in her entreaties that Leontes see reason and not abandon his newly born daughter. She naturally brings a sense of wisdom and humanity to the role.

However this performance would be nothing without it's supporting cast. Miranda Raison almost brings me to tears twice with her heartfelt portrayal of the wronged queen who stands dignified at both her imprisonment and trial and smooths over the slightly ridiculous statue scene.

Hadley Fraser gives a steady performance as the Bohemian King Polixenes as do Camillo, who saves him from Leontes anger and Jimmy Yuill as the Shepherd who takes in the baby princess Perdita and raises her as his own.

The second half begins with a lusty, golden-hued country revel where the men strip off their shirts and the young maidens fight over them.

Tom Bateman is a little overcoming with youthful energy as Florizel, the Prince of Bohemia who falls in love with Perdita- his passion transforming into shouting at times.

His performance is much better in that evening's performance of Terence Rattigan's spoof Harlequinade as the stressed and slightly geeky director of a Shakespearian theatre company.

The play is silly and frothy with plenty of laughs and with most of the cast from the earlier play returning it is fun to compare their very different roles which often seems to directly spoof their own afternoon performances.

I actually preferred Kenneth Branagh in his role of ageing actor Arthur Gosport who is still playing the role of teenage Romeo despite discovering he is a grandfather. I would love to see him embrace more comedic roles in the future.

Miranda Raison is once again gorgeous as his wife, although I would have liked to see her go slightly more overboard.

But the most memorable actor of the night was Zoe Wanamaker, who not only stole every scene she played as outspoken actress Dame Maud but also put in a thrilling performance as a widowed middle-class Londoner in Rattigan's one-hander All On Her Own. She flowed seamlessly from the character of Rosemary, who behind closed doors is coming apart at the seams, to the voice, attitude and even stature of her dearly departed husband who 'comes back' to talk about their marriage.

The Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0HH. Details:,