Noel Coward must be spinning in his grave.
The Whingers were hoping for the briefest of encounters with Kneehigh’s
production of Brief Encounter based on the classic film: having endured Kneehigh’s butchering of the wonderful Powell/Pressburger movie A Matter of Life and Death at the National Theatre last year things could only get better.
Happily they did, but these things – as with astrophysics and incest – are relative.
But if – at 2¼ hours to tell an 86 minute story – Kneehigh clearly can’t embrace brevity, Phil is determined to prove that (for once) he can:
Haymarket Cineworld cinema (which premièred the film) converted back to theatre for production. Subtle story of repressed love smothered in lots of unnecessary business. Cut the songs, cut the Music Hall acts, cut the scooter, keep the intermission ads, keep the tea-cosy, keep the cakes, keep the hats. Amanda Lawrence excellent as Beryl and Dolly Messiter – a face to watch. Slack pace. Scrappy set, excellent projections (but too many waves; too From Here to Eternity) Clever mix of live action and film (very The Purple Rose of Cairo). Roar with laughter at the purple prose of the programme notes.
And as we totally agree with John Morrison’s review we really need say nothing more on the matter.
Footnote: Except… A special thank you to the two elderly ladies sitting behind the Whingers who commented on the action throughout the show. Repeating lines like “Give him his rock cakes Beryl” and successfully spotting props, “Oh look he’s got a watering can”. By far the highlight of the afternoon. Priceless. Perhaps these were the wives of the two old codgers who had sat behind Helen Smith the previous Sunday?
Footnote 2: Oh and a completely gratuitous opportunity to show Victoria Wood’s Brief Encounter parody: