Friday, 18 June 2021

‘On air’ take on our greatest film romance has true grit

‘On air’ take on our greatest film romance has true grit

Brief Encounter on Air | Theatre Royal, Windsor | Tuesday, October 2

IT was all hands to the pump at the Theatre Royal with a last-minute change to the schedule, but thanks to the tenacity and spirit of all involved the only ruffled feathers were those of the protagonists of this melancholic love story.

Bringing us the crushing tale of Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter as if for radio broadcast, Jenny Seagrove and late addition Tom Conti painted touching portraits of two souls brought together by a piece of grit in the eye — specialist in preventative medicine, Dr Alec Harvey, and Laura Jesson, a housewife with a happy yet humdrum existence.

The haunted Laura and understated yet poignant Alec were believable and stoical from the first frisson, with their fraught companionship offset brilliantly by the light relief and comic moments between aloof tea lady Sue Holderness and her frisky cohort Roy Marsden (also directing).

With the supporting cast including a multitasking Daniel Casey and Verity Rushworth, and sound by Dan Sampson, all the elements meshed together for a heartfelt rendition of a classic for radio — supported by recreated door sounds, train whistles and announcements, water sloshing and all with pinpoint accuracy on the timing.

Jenny Seagrove merely glimpsed at her radio script and imbued the character of Laura with multiple facets of emotion and inner turmoil, while Tom Conti as Alec was suffused with a sense of inevitability, of an eternal love doomed to an invisible flame.

Until Saturday.

Natalie Aldred

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