Why we love it
“I’m a happily married woman. Or rather I was until a few weeks ago. This is my whole world and it’s enough, or rather it was until a few weeks ago.”
Your heart dances. The world seems strange and new.
You want to laugh and skip and fall forever…
You are in love.
You are in love with the wrong person.
There’s a theory doing the rounds on the internet (where else) that the man we know as William Shakespeare was in fact Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza, an Italian born in Messina. It’s nonsense, of course, but ask many Italians and they’ll swear it’s the truth. How, they might ask, could the world’s greatest, most passionate love story have been written by a Brit?
Maybe they have a point. Grand gestures, dramatic declarations, overwhelming emotions – it’s not very British, is it? Perhaps that’s why Brief Encounter holds such lasting appeal. David Lean’s 1945 film (based on Noel Coward’s one act play) is as British a love story as they come. Like real British life, it’s repressed, it’s tinged with doom and far too much of it centres around waiting at a train station.
Emma Rice’s stage adaptation of both the film and Coward’s original play succeeds so beautifully because she recognises that though the relationship at the centre of the play is an unglamorous, impossible affair, shot through with sad reality and ‘tender agony’, it’s no less a love story for being any of those things. It ekes every ounce of yearning from those repressed exchanges and finds ways, especially through music, for the characters to escape the things weighing them down and express the full beauty of the peculiar love at the heart of this story.
Why we think you should perform it
Brief Encounter is that rare combination of a play based on a classic, enduringly popular film (Brits still regularly pick it in surveys as their favourite movie romance ever) that doesn’t just repeat the moments we know and love from the big screen. Rather, it finds a new way to tell this story theatrically, combining the best of what the screen and the stage have to offer. Ben Brantley of the New York Times called it “The most enchanting work of stagecraft ever inspired by a movie”. There’s some serious dramatic meat for actors to get their teeth into here, some extremely murky hidden depths to explore.
Kneehigh’s original production was a multimedia extravaganza, employing projection and spectacular staging effects. But the heart of this piece is that simple love story and requires nothing more than imagination and great performances to power it. Adding to the nostalgic atmosphere of the play is integral music from the time, which Samuel French supply along with your performance license.
To find our more about how your group can perform Brief Encounter, visit our website or call our licensing team on 020 7255 4301