24 October 2013

FESTIVAL: Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter
Kneehigh Theatre, Arts Projects Australia, Melbourne Festival, John and Janet Calvert-Jones, The Brenda Shanahan Charitable Foundation
12 October 2013
Athenaeum Theatre
to 27 October
In their West End and Broadway hit, Cornwall’s Kneehigh Theatre pay enthusiastic homage to the 1945 film Brief Encounter.

In 1938, Laura and Alec meet at a train station. Both are married with children, but meet on Thursdays and develop something far more than they’ve ever experienced.

The award-winning film, based on a Noel Coward play, is considered a classic of contained naturalism or a dreary melodrama. Whatever the perspective, it’s a product of its time in look, morality and its very earnest and precise-pro-nun-ci-a-tion acting.

With an almost verbatim script, Kneehigh capture its unmistakable style, but inject a nudge and a wink of joy into its constricted morality, and play with the unearned passion of its melodrama with touches like replacing the Rachmaninoff music with Coward songs.

For all its likeness to the film, its telling is pure theatre with puppets, pull-along trains, film screens and a bright-pink velvet curtain that declares that this isn’t a show for soppy tears.

Brief Encounter’s re-imagining is enchanting and so full of unexpected delight that the love story is secondary. Watch the film for that.

This first appeared at issimomag.com.

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