Brief Encounter takes to the stage

Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter

The Wick Theatre Company take to the stage with a production of Emma Rice’s adaptation of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter.

Directing will be Diane Robinson who promises something of a fairy tale in this Kneehigh Theatre Company-inspired production.

“It’s very much a modern fairy story, about three different relationships, one of which is the relationship that people know from the film, the relationship that couldn’t happen because they are constrained by the time and by their circumstances.”

Diane is promising that the joy, romance and heartache of the timeless story will haunt and entertain you in equal measure.

“Brief Encounter is not a play about trains, but the very reason our would-be lovers Alec and Laura meet, and the things from outside that most threaten them, are trains – train schedules, trains going in opposite directions, trains rushing by and poignant partings in the train station café.

“There is a link too between trains and the movies. We sit constrained in our seats and watch out of the window at the scenes flashing by, like life. Mention Brief Encounter to anyone and what they remember is the famous movie with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, where romance blooms from a piece of grit in the eye.

“Our production, which was adapted for the stage by Kneehigh Theatre company, has a talented cast of 16 actors and three musicians. Although it has the wonderful, heart-wrenching story of Alec and Laura at its core, it is ultimately a funny, multi-media, high-energy production, set mostly in the train station refreshment room where Myrtle, the gorgon of the tea urn, and her resilient assistant Beryl run their own, less restrained romances with the station porters. But mostly it is the story of Alec and Laura, rather than the two other relationships which are successful. Alec’s and Laura’s is the relationship that can’t happen and isn’t able to be for such different reasons.”

Film features in the production to show what it is happening in Laura’s imagination – and also to allow the company to show the fairy tale, the couple playfully enjoying their relationship.

“There is a bit where Laura looks back at herself swimming, and she talks about how when she was young she used to swim. And she remembers the freedom before all the constraints came into her life. I think that’s the most poignant moment. I think Noel Coward is just saying this is the way things are, but also that we have to find ourselves as individuals.”

But there are also elements, Diane believes, in the piece – which is narrated by Laura – where we enter Laura’s imagination, where, for instance, she relates a conversation she wasn’t present to hear.

The approach to the piece is a stylised one: “There are elements where we use moments of freezing and heightened emotion. The rest of the cast freeze while there is something Alec and Laura do. There is a moment where they are caught by their emotions, and the sound of a wave emerges. They re-enact the wave and move with the wave…”

There is also plenty of music and dance, with ensemble and solo singing led by musical director Liz Ryder-Weldon and a live band.

“It has been quite a challenge, particularly using the film. One of the challenges will be when the cast interacts with the film. But is coming together well.”

Performances of Brief Encounter run from Wednesday, October 4 to Saturday, October 7 at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick. There is a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm and evening performance curtain-up is at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £11 on 01273 597094 or www.wicktheatre.co.uk.