In Reviews

Brief Encounter by Steve Tanner

Review by: Amy Stutz 

Opening Night Verdict ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hailed the most romantic love story of all time, Brief Encounter is a charming love story that has been imaginatively adapted for the stage by Emma Rice and Kneehigh Theatre. The critically acclaimed production is touching the hearts of the nation in this brand new UK tour that quite simply is a theatrical masterpiece.

Based on David Lean’s classic 1945 film, the story centres around Laura, a married woman with kids who is just going about her day to day British suburban life on the eve of World War 2. One day at the train station she meets the idealistic married doctor Alec, and after a series of accidental meetings, they fall deeply in love.

Upon entering the theatre, you are completely immersed in their world as you are thrust back in time through live music with actors running around playing ushers. Emma Rice nods towards the stunning cinematics of the film by using remarkable multimedia elements to enhance the story. With the use of film projected onto a louvred screen that the actors literally step in and out of. Opening in the cinema, the entirety of the production feels as if we are part of this motion picture film which resonates when Alec turns to Laura to say: “we’ll always love going to the pictures and getting lost in the dark.” Rice’s imagination doesn’t stop there, as the way she creates the movements of the different trains is exceptionally creative.

The intensity of the love story is balanced out by the strong humour brought by the rest of the cast. With frequent encounters occurring inside the train station tea shop, Lucy Thackeray and Beverly Rudd watch the relationship between Alec and Laura unfold. Thackeray and Rudd’s interaction with both each-other, the customers in the shop and the lovers themselves are performed with sharp wit, creating lots of highly comedic moments in the production.

Pushing the narrative along is the sensational use of live music which is created by the actors on stage. With string instruments, ukeleles and the powerful harmonies of their own voices, each emotionally heartfelt moment is elevated through the strength of the music.

Told from Laura’s perspective, Isabel Pollen gives a superbly natural performance as the young woman in love. Her emotional transparency is undeniable as she captures every feeling felt throughout her whirlwind romance and projects it through her characterisation, making the audience feel every moment with her. Opposite her, Jim Sturgeon has a genuine charisma as Alec that makes you understand why Laura would fall head over heels for him. His gentle approach and kind soul creates a chemistry that feels genuine and warms the hearts of the entire audience.

Brief Encounter is like nothing I’ve seen before as it encapsulates passion, tenderness, humour and style into a rich love story that is laced with delicacy. It’s a production that is beautifully British and emotionally stirring as it captures the complexity of love in a theatrically ingenious way.

On at The Lowry from the 20th to the 24th February. Tickets available here.


The Lowry
The Lowry

A spectacular home to entertainment and the arts.



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