Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Brief Encounter

A brand new adaptation by Emma Rice of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter is being presented by the Kneehigh Theatre Company on the stage at Studio 54 by the Roundabout Theatre Company.  That's a mouthful - and frankly worth every word!  This production includes many shades of the theatrical devices employed in the recent Broadway production of The 39 Steps.  This production seems to take it several steps further and in multiple directions - Video and movie clips tightly integrated with stage performance, musical interludes, songs, and dance carefully interlaced throughout the story, as well as several "artistic transitions" that all add up to one of the most ingenious and innovative multi-media presentations on Broadway today.

The cast, a diverse group of British and American actors and musicians helm the production.  By way of some background here - In 1936 Coward wrote several one act plays to be presented over 3 nights.  One of these plays was titled Still Life.  In 1945, Coward expanded this one act into a full length screenplay which was re-titled Brief Encounter and stared Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.  In 1974, the film was remade staring Richard Burton and Sophia Loren.  This Broadway adaptation takes elements of both the one act play and both films and turns up the heat with the introduction of several other forms of artistic expression.

Two ordinary married people (not to each other just to be clear) meet by chance in the coffee shop at a train station in London.  They ultimately fall in love, continue meeting weekly at the coffee shop, and ultimately struggle with the the fact that they are in love and having an affair.  (No ending spoiler here).  Shocking to audiences in 1940's (although one would assume it was more an unspoken reality).  Today, we look at it mostly with fondness as a delicate and romantic interlude.  

Take your own train over to West 54th street and take in a true delight that will dazzle many of your senses.  Stick around for the fun afterwards too!