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Critics love Brief Encounter! Read the reviews.



At Roundabout Theatre Company

Read all the reviews!

Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director) in association with David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Cineworld presents Kneehigh Theatre’s production of Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter, adapted and directed by Emma Rice. Brief Encounter is playing at Studio 54 on Broadway (254 W54th St). This is a limited engagement through December 5, 2010.

NEW YORK TIMES by Ben Brantley

“The acrobatics of love are performed in high style in “Brief Encounter,” which is surely the most enchanting work of stagecraft ever inspired by a movie. The physical activities that occur in this exquisite British-born production, which opened on Tuesday night at Studio 54, are both more everyday and exotic than that, routinely described but seldom enacted. Walking on air, going head over heels, drowning in passion and, above all, falling, falling, falling in love: commonplace metaphors take on literal, revitalizing life in Emma Rice’s adaptation of the 1945 David Lean movie.  The current incarnation, which arrives courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre Company, feels to me richer than ever. Ms. Rice and her team reproduce that heady sensation, but they also shed a piercing, illuminating beam on what it means to be lost like that — in the movies, of course, but also in love.”  Full review: http://tiny.cc/lx03i


“Even if you’re not familiar with David Lean’s 1946 movie melodrama Brief Encounter, you will find yourself caught up in writer-director Emma Rice’s brilliantly reconceived stage adaptation, now playing at Broadway’s Studio 54.  The narrative speeds merrily along, aided by some wickedly smart stagecraft from Rice’s Kneehigh Theatre of Cornwall. Neil Murray’s costumes and versatile set smartly lay out the scene, from suburban home to railway station. And Gemma Carrinton and Jon Driscoll’s projections cleverly bridge the gap between stage and screen (the characters literally leap through a screen on the stage, then appear as figures on the film projections). These technical innovations would mean nothing if Rice and her spot-on cast were not serving the story. And that they do. This show is still a pip.” A- Full review: http://tiny.cc/smboz5pkid


“To pin down precisely what Brief Encounter is would quickly exhaust the Earth’s dwindling supply of hyphens. I’ll settle for “cabinet of wonders,” which seems to get at the false-bottomed delights of this sui generis theatrical event from director Emma Rice.

The small ensemble, doubling for a cast of thousands, is uniformly excellent, periodically bursting into an a capella rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, as well as performing cunningly chosen Coward songs (“Go Slow, Johnny,” “Any Little Fish”) that punctuate and underline the action in sparkling arrangements by Stu Baker.”

Full review: http://tiny.cc/39d2d

NY1 by Roma Torre

“What emerges is a beautifully touching piece of theatre. To compare it to the source would be a disservice since creator/director Emma Rice’s staging is itself artfully original. What she’s achieved is something of a reconstruction of the Noel Coward work. Rice added songs written by the author, along with puppets, evocative choreography and a giant screen featuring filmed projections, all of which contribute yet another dimension to the story.  The actors, most of whom originated the work in Cornwall England’s Knee High Theatre are exceptionally gifted multi-talents. It’s mesmerizing to watch the romance wash over Tristan Sturrock and Hannah Yelland as Alec and Laura. The rest of the company captivates with perfectly pitched performances in a variety of roles.  It’s a unique performance art that goes well beyond gimmickry. Emma Rice’s 90 minute encounter with Noel Coward’s great work – equally sublime – stands on its own.”

Full review: http://tiny.cc/3g32adidy7

NEW YORK POST by Elisabeth Vincentelli

“The brilliant production of “Brief Encounter” that opened on Broadway last night should make all but the sourest puss believe in romance again. It’s a spirited charm offensive that’s just impossible to resist. Rice never lets us forget we’re watching a show. But instead of creating a distance, her constant blurring of the fourth wall creates a bond between the audience and the multitasking cast. Why deny yourself the pure joy of this moment?”  Full review: http://tiny.cc/y2hof


“London’s Kneehigh Theatre has had more than a brief encounter with Brief Encounter, its exhilarating multimedia adaptation of the classic David Lean film written by Noel Coward.  It now has returned for a welcome Broadway run being presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54, a vintage theater built during the 1920s that suits this unique show exceedingly well. The overall effect is visually dazzling, but the neatest trick is that the technological gimmickry never overwhelms the simple emotionality of the tale.  Cleverness abounds, from the use of puppets to portray Laura’s children to the splashes of water provided to accompany the scene of the lovers’ comic attempt at boating. And moments like when the two lovers display their romantic bliss while hanging from chandeliers remain magical. The two leads remain deeply moving as the guilt-stricken lovers, and the ensemble provides sterling support, especially Joseph Alessi, doubling in the roles of Laura’s distracted husband and a cheer train dispatcher; Annette McLaughlin as the cafe owner; and Dorothy Atkinson as the tea girl who reveals her romantic longing in numbers like ‘Mad About the Boy’.”

Full review: http://tiny.cc/gzlu7

VARIETY by Steven Suskin

“Production uses ingenious theatricality to combine a dollop of nostalgia, a dose of sentiment and a scent of satire into a frothy mix. Adapter/director Emma Rice uses a small cast and modest trappings to turn out a consistent parade of jolts of playhouse wonderment.  “Brief Encounter” takes an atmospheric film with romantic sweep and heightens those emotions, waves crashing and lovers flying head-over-heels.”  Full review: http://tiny.cc/ndysv


“Emma Rice’s adaptation of ‘Brief Encounter’ wraps a melancholy story in giddy, silly fun.  It’s a show that simply cannot be contained: Actors pop up from the orchestra seats and rush around the aisles, they dangle from the ceiling, toss pastries to the audience and vanish through a movie screen only to reappear in a one-dimensional film clip.

Those are just some of the countless visual jokes and slapstick shenanigans that enliven the show.  This has to be one of the most inventive, genre-breaking shows since ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’.” Full review: http://tiny.cc/tmzy4

NEWSDAY by Linda Winer

“Last winter, fortunate theatergoers fell madly, hopelessly in love with “Brief Encounter,” the enchanting British spin on the Noel Coward movie that had a limited sold-out run at the adventurous little St. Ann’s Warehouse under the Brooklyn Bridge.  As it turns out, our brief affair was not hopeless after all. The Roundabout Theatre Company has swept up the ingenious import and put it on Broadway.  The magic survives.”  Full review: http://tiny.cc/w7vec

“Brief Encounter feels like such a beguilingly fresh event.  The enchanting British import, an inspiringly imaginative adaptation of the 1945 movie of the same title, opened Tuesday night at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54. As conceived by director Emma Rice, the stage version offers a gentler tweaking of movie conventions, and movie romance in particular. It’s a delightful meshing of slyness and pathos, a loving homage that still retains a keen sense of fun.”  Full review: http://tiny.cc/ziv2u

WOR RADIO by David Richardson

“It’s comedy at its best and tragic romance in a new Broadway show that opened last night at Studio 54.  It’s Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter and I loved it.  Brief Encounter is about a love affair that maybe even all of us have dreamed about at some moment in our lives. The two of them Hannah Yelland and Tristan Sturrock, who played the same roles in the hugely successful London production are terrific and the supporting cast is way more than first rate.  Brief Encounter is in fact the first show of the new Broadway season but who knows it may in fact be the best show of the season.”

WOR RADIO by Joan Hamburg

“I was enchanted by Brief Encounter, I thought it was fantastic with lots of cinematic effects that were quite dazzling.”

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