Friday, 10 April 2009

Brief Encounter

To the Richmond Theatre to finally catch Kneehigh's critically acclaimed Brief Encounter which played at inflated ticket prices in town last year.

It was well worth the hype! A terrific show filled with imaginative choices, verve and the soft charm that I think makes this company unique in the UK. Film used theatrically rather than, as happens sometimes in multi media events, as a disjunction or even a dominating visual force. As a company I always imagine Kneehigh sitting round a big kitchen table, eating homemade soup in a rural farmhouse scratching their heads and wondering why anybody would want to live in a city, especially that there London. Their aesthetic comes from the wisdom of those not worried about appearances or social cache.

The production is also a lesson in reclamation and contemporising, in the same tradition and as smart as Stephen Daldry's early nineties production of An Inspector Calls, and surely the only way to stop writers like Priestly, Coward, Rattigan - dare I even say Shaw- becoming dated museum curios. It opens the door for more playful discoveries and a realigning of the importance of the plays written before the 1956 Look Back in Anger revolution.

Emma Rice is a superb director every glance, gesture, and inflection performed by actors who relish the open chance to play with each other and the audience. The connection is simple, flowing, completely lacking in guile and all the more refreshing for it.

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