Touring – reviewed at Birmingham Repertory Theatre
West End season at Empire Cinema Haymarket from 2 March to 2 September 2018
Directed by Emma Rice, this is a fast-paced, superbly powerful, moving and yet hilarious piece of theatre. Every emotion is captured and evoked within the 90-minute production.
Brief Encounter is a widely-known film, renowned for tugging at the heartstrings and its stunning cinematography. In this piece, the essence of the film exists alongside a farcical element which is still in keeping with the genre and the era.
The love story at the heart of the tale beats strongly throughout with beautiful and believable chemistry between Laura (Isabel Pollen) and Alec (Jim Sturgeon). Better casting for the pair of would-be lovers I couldn’t imagine. They drew my attention and held it completely at every turn.
Beverly Rudd is easily one of my favourites among the ensemble, she is delightful as the naïve Beryl – helper in the station café bar. The addition of the scooter which she travels about on is a detail which adds an extra dimension to the characterisation.
Rudd also plays four other characters and is practically unrecognisable in each role. She’s a marvel. I already knew of her from Sky One’s Trollied, but she has talent which knows no bounds and a stunning singing voice to top it all off.
Jos Slovick plays opposite her as Beryl’s beau and he also demonstrates his musicality, another real talent and an effortlessly natural vocalist. There is excellent comedic chemistry between Rudd and Slovick.
Also impressive in their performances are Lucy Thackeray as Myrtle and another character called Mary and Dean Nolan as Fred, Albert, Stephen and an usher.
When he played opposite Thackeray (as Myrtle who runs the café bar) it was a joy to watch – their courtship was almost as compelling as that of Laura and Alec.
The action is punctuated by music, provided by an on-stage band which is compiled of many members of the cast. There is also a number of songs included which fit perfectly and added to the ambience, too. The set was innovative, worked on many levels and was practical too. The use of projection was ideal for this production, especially fitting given that the original story was shown on screen. You’ll laugh, cry, might feel encouraged to sing along and then cry a few more buckets before the show’s out and the standing ovation couldn’t have been more deserved.