Touring – reviewed at HOME Manchester
The beautifully told The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk from Kneehigh depicts the life and love of Russian-Yiddish artist Marc Chagall and his wife Bella. The love story is deliciously told and plays out against the backdrop of some of the most major historical events to happen in the 20th century – from the Russian Revolution to the Communist pogroms and the Nazi’s systematic extermination of Jewish people.
Designer Sophia Clist has conjured up the uncertainty of the era with a climbing frame style set, slightly skewed with a sloping floor. The stage is visually striking with purple, green and yellow hues – Marc Antolin and Daisy Maywood, as Marc and Bella Chagall, move beautifully together in the space – their stylised physicality reminiscent of the weightlessness suggested in Chagall’s Expressionist paintings.
The whole story is told beautifully and vibrantly by the two actors, with two musician/performers, Ian Ross and Andy Gow, providing a wonderfully folksy score and assisting at points throughout the show.
Perhaps the most special element of this production is the way that Emma Rice manages to weave different methods of storytelling fluidly together. The production starts with a beautifully delivered song rather as a musical would, and then manages to juxtapose direct dialogue, some wonderfully balletic sequences and some sharp visual imagery.
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk presents a striking non-romanticised view of love and art in a stunningly sensual and passionate way. This is a truly unmissable show.