There is truly nothing better than going to the theatre. I honestly believe it’s the perfect cure. Before I went out on last night’s cold February evening, I was exhausted, and filled with anxiety which led to a migraine brimming its ugly head. The moment the lights went down and up again in 1930 Britain, I was a completely different person. In fact, I wasn’t even a thing to be contemplated because all awareness I had before became lost in the world of Harvey and Laura’s brief encounter. It was the kind of show where you notice that you’ve been grinning like a fool for five minutes but it doesn’t matter because the entertainment is so truly magnificent.
The show was a take on Noël Coward’s short play Brief Encounter. The Kneehigh Theatre Company then incorporated cinematic elements of the 1945 film adaptation alongside the live action theatre. Whilst this could have been a difficult move for many, Emma Rice took on the directing role perfectly as the show was peppered with seamless transitions between film and theatre.
If like me, you haven’t previously seen the film, the story follows a simple storyline of a complex relationship by two ‘respectable’ adults who meet by chance and happen to fall in love, despite having comfortable marriages and children with respective partners. Along the way there are the classic elements that make up a romantic storyline. Meet cute, doubt, surprise, regret, infatuation and the inevitable crash and burn. However in this adaptation it wasn’t just the leads that took to centre stage, as much of the subplots were equally as eye catching if not more so. I would say 70% of the show I was watching the supporting cast opposed to the leads as their own stories were riveting and entertaining. They were crucial to the shows overall energy and brilliance.
The cast swept the audience off their feet as the shows leads were quite literally swept off their feet with impressive choreography and aerial play. Before the show started the supporting cast who also doubled as the shows musical score grouped themselves into sections of the audience and tuned their instruments and warmed their voices. It gave a real nostalgic feel to the room as if we were actually sat in a golden era cinema.
The chorus’ singing voices fit themselves together like a perfect Tetris move – it was incredibly impressive. The kind of impressive where you have to question whether it was actual singing live – which of course it was. The harmonies were soft yet had the ability to cut through the air and give you goose-bumps. The most notable performance was that of Jos Slovick’s who held himself like an old time Ed Sheeran but had the voice of a golden age crooner and then some. I honestly could not get over how beautiful the voice was that laced the background to many of the scenes including the all-poignant ‘Johnny Go Slow’ song. Can I have Jos Slovick being the soundtrack to all of my marital affairs please?
Each and every cast member brought a smile to the audience, whether it was the boldly Myrtle played lavishly by Lucy Thackery or the playful Beryl played hilariously by Beverly Rudd. Dean Nolan doubled up characters portraying both Fred; Lauras loving and soft husband as well as playing the porter who strove for the attention of Myrtle. There wasn’t a character in the play that you couldn’t not like. Even Fred who usually in his situation would be played as a soppy character was actually incredibly easy to sympathise with and not in a patronising way. He was quick, funny and loving. When Dean switched to playing the porter, as Myrtles lover he was brash, bold and witty.
Brief Encounter is showing at The Lowry until Sat 24th February so there is still time to get a ticket. If not, have a look at the rest of the listings on The Lowry website and become lost in another world for a few hours.