I met with Isabel Pollen and Jim Sturgeon who play the leading roles of Laura and Alec in Brief Encounter. We spoke about what its like to re-create such an iconic film on stage.
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.
As the leads, Isabel Pollen and Jim Sturgeon are captivating. Suitably reserved and excited at times they create a moving and heartbreaking relationship which blurs the lines between film and reality.
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.
You may find, by the finish of Brief Encounter, that you’ve got a little bit of grit in your eye too, but don’t be afraid to be swept along with this exquisitely flawless production.
My verdict? Brief Encounter is a love letter to stage and screen, beautifully conceived and immaculately performed – the show of the year so far.