Having originally been built as a live performance venue in 1926 but used for many years as a modern cinema screen, the new 440-seat theatre was specially converted to house Brief Encounter. The Cineworld cinema chain, which runs 73 venues across the country including the one on Haymarket, also joined in with West End impresarios David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers to co-produce the stage show. After the Brief Encounter run concludes, The Cinema will revert to its use as a movie complex.
First seen last October at Birmingham Rep and the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, Brief Encounter opened at The Cinema on 17 February 2008 (previews from 2 February) and had originally been booking for a limited season to June. It will now finish after nine months.
Commenting on today’s announcement, David Pugh said: “I am delighted and amazed at the astounding success of the Kneehigh production of Brief Encounter. It was a daunting and some people said plain silly idea to adapt one of London’s oldest cinemas back into a theatre, but it has proved to be a most inspired and exciting achievement. What started as a 12-week run has been extended and extended, which means the Kneehigh Theatre Company will have played for over 350 performances, and they are now due a well-earned rest before the UK tour opens.”
Based on a combination of Noel Coward’s screenplay and his original 1935 one-act stage play, Still Life, Brief Encounter is adapted and directed by Kneehigh artistic director Emma Rice and stars Naomi Frederick and Tristan Sturrock as Laura and Alec, the infidelity tempted couple immortalised on screen by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, as well as Tamzin Griffin, Dorothy Atkinson, Stuart McLoughlin, Andy Williams and musicians Adam Pleeth and Alex Vann.
The play is designed by Neil Murray, with lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, original music by Stu Barker, sound by Simon Baker and projection by Gemma Carrington and Jon Driscoll. Mike Shepherd is Kneehigh’s associate producer.
- by Terri Paddock