Brief Encounter stays at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until Saturday 17 February, book your tickets here: Brief Encounter Tickets
Star rating: *****
Directed by Emma Rice, this is a fast-paced, superbly powerful, moving and yet hilarious piece of theatre. Every emotion is captured and evoked within the 90 minute production.
Brief Encounter is a widely known film, renowned for tugging at the heart strings and its stunning cinematography. In this piece, the essence of the film exists alongside a farcical element which is still in keeping with the genre and the era.
The love story at the heart of the tale beats strongly throughout with beautiful and believable chemistry between Laura (Isabel Pollen) and Alec (Jim Sturgeon). Better casting for the pair of would-be lovers I couldn’t imagine, they drew my attention and held it completely at every turn.
Beverly Rudd was easily one of my favourites among the ensemble, she was delightful as the naïve Beryl – helper in the station café bar, the addition of the scooter which she travelled about on was a detail which added an extra dimension to the characterisation. Rudd also played four other characters and was practically unrecognisable in each role. She’s a marvel, I already knew of her from Sky One’s Trollied, however she has talent which knows no bounds and a stunning singing voice to top it all off. Jos Slovick played opposite her as Beryl’s beau and he also demonstrated his musicality, another real talent and an effortlessly natural vocalist. There was excellent comedic chemistry between Rudd and Slovick. Also impressive in their performances were Lucy Thackeray as Myrtle and another character called Mary and Dean Nolan as Fred, Albert, Stephen and an usher. When he played opposite Thackeray (as Myrtle who runs the café bar) it was a joy to watch – their courtship was almost as compelling as that of Laura and Alec.
The action is punctuated by music, provided by an on-stage band which is compiled of many members of the cast. There is also a number of songs included which fit perfectly and added to the ambience, too. The set was innovative, worked on many levels and was practical too. The use of projection was ideal for this production, especially fitting given that the original story was shown on screen. You’ll laugh, cry, might feel encouraged to sing along and then cry a few more buckets before the show’s out and the standing ovation couldn’t have been more deserved.