Kneehigh Theatre is to bring an innovative new stage production of Brief Encounter to London’s West End from 2 February, staged not in a traditional theatre but in the Cineworld on Haymarket, which will be renamed The Cinema Haymarket for the duration of the show’s run.
Based on Noël Coward’s one-act play Still Life, Brief Encounter is best known for David Lean’s Oscar-winning 1945 romantic film about a man and a woman who meet at a railway station. Kneehigh’s new production, directed by artistic director Emma Rice, switches between Coward’s original stage play and the film’s screenplay as the lives and loves of three couples are played out in the station tearoom.
Brief Encounter has a cast which includes Tristan Sturrock as Alec, Naomi Frederick as Laura, Tamzin Griffin (Myrtle), Amanda Lawrence (Beryl), Stuart McLoughlin (Stanley) and Andy Williams (Fred/Albert), with musicians Adam Pleeth and Ian Ross.
Kneehigh was last in London in 2007 with its National Theatre production of A Matter Of Life And Death, adapted from the Powell and Pressburger film. The company’s other productions include Tristan And Yseult at the National, The Red Shoes, Rapunzel and The Wooden Frock at BAC, and The Bacchae, Nights At The Circus and Cymbeline at the Lyric Hammersmith.
The Cinema Haymarket originally opened in 1927 as a venue suitable for both live theatre and film showings, named The Carlton Theatre. Though Lady Luck was its first production, stage gradually gave way to film at the venue, and in 1946 it premiered Lean’s Brief Encounter. The venue was adapted into a three-screen cinema in 1979.
Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter previews from 2 February, with a press night on 17 February.