“Brief Encounter has been approved for public exhibition to the incurably romantic.” And so began my theater experience of the Kneehigh Theatre’s production of that play.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. It began when I walked into the theater to find four men playing instruments in the lobby (one of whom I of course locked eyes with), and then those same men, accompanied by two ladies, sang standards in the theater right up until the show began.
And oh, what a show it was. I’ve never seen the 1945 movie (which itself was based on Noel Coward’s play Still Life), but this particular stage adaptation (created circa 2008) was pure magic. It combined elements of the original play and the film to create something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The execution was seamless, from flashes of trains to the simple rowing of a boat.
But even without the exquisite technical details and the musicality of the production, the story of the Laura and Alec, two married people (but not to each other, of course) whose passionate affair of the heart begins with (here it comes) the briefest of encounters, still swept me away. The juxtaposition of the romances of Beryl and Stanley and Mrs. Bagot and Albert reveal the more entertaining elements of this crazy little thing called love.
I’ll probably be humming “Mad About The Boy” and “A Room With A View” for days on end now.