As with last year, there were too many brilliant performances to restrict this to one combined list – so once again I’ve split them up into male and female performances.
As the cast take on different characters in each other’s dreams and memories, their versatility shines and all three excel in their hauntingly comic performances. Anna Bella Eema is bizarre and beautifully poetic – a must-see show.
The strange but spellbinding Anna Bella Eema makes for an intriguing trip to the Arcola Theatre.
The inimitable Kneehigh retools The Beggar’s Opera in Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs).
Brief Encounter is a love letter to both film and theatre in which Rice combines elements of David Lean’s 1946 film with the 1936 Noël Coward play Still Life that it was based on, and then sprinkles in her own brand of magic.
The interactive movie footage in Brief Encounter is well done, there are trains enough to satisfy the most diligent railway enthusiast, and the breaking waves motif is clever. Maybe it’s a pity they couldn’t have intercut some of the David Lean film, it’s still a classic. But, in its own way, so is this production.
On the far side of Emma Rice’s brief unhappy tenure at the Globe, here Brief Encounter comes again, with a few fine tweaks, to remind us what Rice does best, and how playful, inventive, sincere and inspiring Kneehigh can be when it beats its own path through the woods.
My verdict? Brief Encounter is a love letter to stage and screen, beautifully conceived and immaculately performed – the show of the year so far.
Directed by Emma Rice, Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter is a fast-paced, superbly powerful, moving and yet hilarious piece of theatre.