Mark Rylance upstaged by his dog on Broadway stage

Mark Rylance as Richard III The double bill marks the first time Rylance has performed Shakespeare on Broadway

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Actor Mark Rylance has made his Broadway Shakespeare debut - but was upstaged by his own dog's performance.

Apache, a Jack Russell Terrier, was reluctant to leave the Belasco Theatre stage, where Rylance is starring in Richard III and Twelfth Night.

"He made an excellent entrance, but I'll have to teach him a few things about exits!" said Rylance, winner of two Tony awards.

The actor plays the medieval monarch and noblewoman Olivia in the two plays.

London's Globe Theatre is staging the productions, with Richard III in the afternoon and Twelfth Night in the evening - a total of six hours of theatre.

The company, putting on Shakespeare on Broadway for the first time, is following the Tudor tradition of having an all-male cast playing all of the roles, including the female ones.

Rylance, who added that his dog was also making his New York theatrical debut, was called "astonishing" in a review by Ben Brantley of the New York Times. "This is how Shakespeare was meant to be done," he added.

The two plays and gender-swapping roles allow him to be "as brilliant in trousers as he is in a dress", added the review.

"Radiant illumination"

Marilyn Stasio, writing in Variety, said that Rylance's portrayal of Richard III was "an assassin consumed less by envy and hatred of his victims than loathing for his own twisted self."

Stephen Fry, making his New York stage debut as Malvolio in Twelfth Night, was praised for his sympathetic portrayal of the usually malevolent character.

Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night Fry made his Broadway debut as Malvolio, opposite Mark Rylance as Olivia

The New York Times said: "Malvolio is refreshingly embodied by Mr. Fry with the complacency and affectation of someone you might recognize from your own office."

Brantley said that the two productions were "a source of radiant illumination for the audience, while the bewilderment of the characters onstage floods us with pure, tickling joy.

"I can't remember being so ridiculously happy for the entirety of a Shakespeare performance since - let me think - August 2002."

He went on to explain this was when he last saw Twelfth Night at the Globe Theatre in London, starring Mark Rylance.

Both plays are due to continue at the Belasco Theatre until 30 November.

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