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Brief Encounter - STC #12

Posted by on April 9, 2014

brief-encounter2Lucky show #13 12. This show was one of those spur of the moment additions to my schedule of shows and I’m really glad that I did. The show (produced by the Kneehigh Theater Company in England) is based on Noel Coward's 1938 play Still Life and the 1940’s movie it inspired, Brief Encounter. The play is just delightful; I really can’t come up with a better word to describe it; it was a wonderful afternoon of theater and I walked out feeling happy. The show was sweet and funny and sad and thoughtful and dramatic and poignant and musical and...did I leave anything out. Really what more can you ask for?

The play is about three different pairs of lovers that cross paths in a London train station. The main love story centers on Laura and Alec who have a “meet-cute” thanks to an errant speck of dust that Alec removes from Laura’s eye. Their attraction is immediate and in short time it is obvious they were meant for each other; if only they weren’t already married…to other people. So commences the bittersweet love story of two entirely decent people who try and walk a careful line between passion and responsibility. Their story is bookended by two other love stories, one between Beryl and Stanley, two young lovers with no impediments to their passion and Myrtle and Albert with too much of their life passed by to allow time to steal any more of it. It nicely highlights the limits of Laura and Alec’s love affair as they are hampered by their mid-life obligations to others.

brief encounter 04The show, designed as an homage to the 1940’s film, somehow manages manages the neat trick of perfectly capturing the feel of the 1940's and yet still making the show feel fresh and entirely modern.  The acting style of the production is straight out of that 1940’s era of movies but they intertwined it with a multi-media combination of  black and white movie sequences, imagery, silent movement and musical interludes that manage to flow seamlessly together into an entertaining and engaging performance; they had me from the opening scene and kept me rapt for the whole show (90min, no intermission.)

Actually to be honest they started sucking me in even before the show because not only are the actors the on stage band/singers/dancers for the on stage musical numbers (but don’t confuse this with a musical) but they are the pre-show entertainment. They were performing in the lobby before the show then moved into the theater prior to the curtain going up. It really helped set the mood for the rest of the show.

brief encounter 03I can’t stop without giving serious kudos to the cast; they all had great chemistry on stage and fluidity of the performance was fantastic. Almost all the actors played more than one role; most often the transition was intentionally rough, bringing in the audience in on the joke. I will mention that the actor who played Fred (Laura’s husband) and Albert (Myrtle’s love interest) transformed from one character  to the other so completely that it did not occur to me that it was the same actor until after the curtain call. Not that there was a radical change of appearance, no wigs, no fake noses, just a simple costume change and the transformation of demeanor and character was total. That my friends, is ACTING.

The show is only her for one more week but if you’re looking for something just fun to see I can’t recommend this show enough.

One Response to Brief Encounter - STC #12

  1. SH

    Loved the review!

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