Kneehigh Converts Cinema for Brief Encounter RunDate: 4 January 2008
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 8 Oct 2007), Kneehigh Theatre will bring its acclaimed adaptation of David Lean’s 1945 film classic Brief Encounter to the West End next month – albeit to a non-traditional theatrical venue. The Daily Mail reports today that the stage production will open on 17 February 2008 (previews from 2 February) at the Cineworld cinema on the Haymarket, where it’s initially taking bookings to 22 June.
The venue, to be rebranded as “The Cinema” for the play’s run, has secured permission from Westminster City Council to change its use for the production. Brief Encounter will run in the 440-seat, Art Deco main auditorium. There are two smaller screens on site, which may run other black and white film classics during the stage production’s season.
In the much-loved screen original, Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard (pictured) played Alec and Laura, a middle-class couple who meet by chance at a railway station buffet and valiantly try to obey the morals of the time and resist the urge to cheat on their respective spouses with one another. The film has previously been adapted for the stage – Jenny Seagrove and Christopher Cazenove starred in the West End in 2000 (See News, 23 Aug 2000).
In the Kneehigh version, adapted and directed by artistic director, Naomi Fredericks and Tristan Sturrock play Alec and Laura. The production is presented in the West End by David Pugh and Daffyd Rogers.
Kneehigh’s adaptation of another Forties film classic, Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death, received mixed reviews when it premiered at the National Theatre last year (See Review Round-up, 14 May 2007). However, the company has achieved critical and popular acclaim with previous shows including Cymbeline, Tristan and Yseult and another Powell and Pressburger adaptation, The Red Shoes.
Brief Encounter was based on Still Life, the one-act 1935 stage play by Noel Coward, who himself adapted it for the screen. The Kneehigh production won’t be the only Coward hitting the West End next month. Peter Hall’s new production of Noel Coward’s 1924 play The Vortex, starring Felicity Kendal and Dan Stevens, opens on 26 February 2008 (previews from 20 February) at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue (See News, 23 Nov 2007).
- by Terri Paddock