Last night nearly 200 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers arrived at the Gielgud to watch the latest offering from theatre company Kneehigh who, having achieved smash hit succcess both at home and abroad with their production Brief Encounter, return to the West End with their own take on iconic French film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Their production starring Olivier winner Joanna Riding and cabaret diva Meow Meow was much anticipated and certainly didn't disappoint!

Set in the French town of Cherbourg in the last 1950s Geneviève Emery (Carly Bawden) and Guy Fouchier (Andrew Durand) fall in love. Guy however is called to war and Geneviève must chose between her distant hero and the dashing diamond dealer who asks for her hand. With her mother's shop deeply in debt and a baby on the way (!) the decision isn't so simple! Meow Meow as la matrese, steals the show as our French life and language guide. She brings all the force of her talent to bear as she strutts, pouts and sings across the stage having us by turns, laughing at her 'french' take on English culture and putty in her hands with her moving rendition of "Sans Toi". Two-time Olivier winner Joanne Riding as mother of Geneviève captures the essence of motherly love and she is a powerful prescence on stage.

Kneehigh has outdone themselves once more with their clever use of set and stage using all the available levels to ensure that the production is dynamic and constantly moving. The chorus are integral to the piece not only musically but as they move and carry props and the leads themselves giving this production a feeling of fluidity that works well with the mood of this entirely sung piece.

Following the performance we were lucky to be joined by the cast, including Meow Meow (unfortunately after many people had already had to rush to catch trains) who were happy to chat and share their experiences of their involvement in the piece and with Kneehigh even though they'd performed a matinee that afternoon and were anticipating notes this afternoon, the show still being in previews! That's certainly dedication. 

Please do feel free to email your comments and thoughts about the play, as well as any photos you have of the event and the evening through to feedback@whatsonstage.com, we love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining us for this event, and do check the homepage to keep up to date on all of our upcoming Outings.