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Brief Encounter

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The Director's Note for Kneehigh Theatre's production of Brief Encounter at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn is headlined "I Love Romance.  I Also Love Folk Tales."  "Aha," I said to ellen_kushner .  "We have something in common.  That's promising."

After seeing the play, I'd add that the director, Emma Rice, also loves Shakespeare, classic movies, and puppetry.  She enjoys shredding the fourth wall and repurposing Noel Coward songs and having her actors passing out cucumber sandwiches in the lobby after the show.

I liked this show a lot.  I liked the way characters sometimes stepped into a projected, black & white image and immediately appeared on the screen.  I liked the interpolation of Noel Coward songs by a quartet of wonderful musicians costumed as whoever was hanging around the station refreshment area, who would just pick up their instruments and start singing.  I liked the costumes, which were pitch-perfect 1938 sensible tweeds and uniforms.  I loved the actors, who performed their parts with a refreshingly straightforward and irony-free sincerity which I found very appealing.  I loved Laura's puppet-children, and the Shakespearean doubling of lovers--the lusty clowns, Albert and Myrtle, the young innocents Beryl and Bill--and the hints of fairy tale in the background images.  And I loved, loved, loved the actors.

  Hannah Yelland as Laura had a particularly tough row to hoe as a decent, repressed, rather prim wife who finally has too much self respect to throw her dull and worthy husband over for true love, but they were all great.  My only reservation (and it's more an observation than a reservation) is that I found when it was over that it was the artifice I remembered and not the emotions.  The fourth wall may have been breached, but I didn't feel pulled into Laura and Alec's personal tragedy.  I was delighted, not moved.  But I was very delighted.

This production is going to Minneapolis next, from February to April.  Do go see it if you're from around there.  Mileage always varies on these things, but I'd be surprised if you didn't come away with something interesting to talk about.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
kortirion
Jan. 17th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Is this Kneehigh the British company from Cornwall? If so I have seen some of their productions over here and they are truly wonderful productions of theatre as spectacle - the physicality is stunning. I'll agree they don't go for drawing out of emotions... but the practice, the stagecraft, the joie de vivre... awesome - as the word is meant to be used! ;D
deliasherman
Jan. 18th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
Yes, that's who they are. St. Ann's Warehouse tends to bring in the established avant-garde (if there can be such a thing): Mabou Mines, small Brit theatre companies, like that. We saw Black Watch there last year. I've seen a couple of real duds there, but this one was enchanting.
1crowdedhour
Jan. 18th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
I'll watch out for it.
deliasherman
Jan. 18th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
Do. I'll lay a monkey on your liking it a lot.
1crowdedhour
Apr. 12th, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
You win!
deliasherman
Apr. 12th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
So the question now becomes, "What kind of monkey?"

I like cappuchins. ;-D
1crowdedhour
Apr. 12th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
They make the best coffee, no question.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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