Review Round Up: Brief Encounter, Empire Cinema Haymarket

Emma Rice’s production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter returns to London. Here’s what critics thought of it…

BRIEF ENCOUNTER Isabel Pollen (Laura) & Jim Sturgeon (Alec) credit Simon Turtle
(c) Simon Turtle. 

The Guardian: **** “This is such a great night out: a show of genuine invention, with broad appeal to both young and old, and a big, bruised, beating heart.”

London ***** “the one-off factory of theatrical wizardry that is Emma Rice offers an utterly enveloping stage show that both honours and respects the film origins of its material, with characters stepping from the stage right into a black and white projected version of themselves”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Brief Encounter may feel like standard fare for Kneehigh, perhaps, but is still a joy ride for punters looking for a master-crafted piece of storytelling.”

The Stage: **** “The production feels trimmer and tighter than in earlier incarnations, there are some superb comic turns from the supporting cast, and the whole thing manages to be unashamedly romantic, while also startlingly poignant in places. Theatre as elixir. Delicious.”

Evening Standard: **** “an appealing show that mixes larky charm with unabashed romanticism.”

London Theatre1: ***** ” a lovely old fashioned story that wouldn’t occur today, but still has something about it that transcends time and place.”

The Gay UK: *** “Whilst the two main actors play it straight as the po-faced couple headed for heartache, the rest of the cast camp it up as the remaining bit players. This is where the problem lies. It all becomes too much and a bit panto at times. There’s lots of face pulling, whimsy and larking around. Whilst it works part of the time it all feels a bit much at others. Less is sometimes more.”

Mature Times: “Emma Rice’s expressionistic and innovative production for Kneehigh Theatre, which uses film footage skilfully throughout, is never a travesty and never a spoof but something quite original and yet true to the original.”

The Upcoming: **** ” Brief Encounter is nuanced and effecting; it’s evident that the director did not intend to produce a clone of Lean’s movie, yet she remains true to the classic tale.”

Johnny **** “Rice has opened out the story from the realistic three-hankie weepie at its centre, well delivered by Isabel Pollen and Jim Sturgeon, to a railway-station romp with characters exaggerated to cartoonish effect but by seriously excellent actors such as Beverly Rudd’s gawp of a tearoom waitress, overseen by Lucy Thackeray’s starched-apron-over-voluptuous-femme-fatale manageress Myrtle.”

Brief Encounter will play at the Empire Cinema Haymarket  until the 2nd September 2018.  To book tickets click here or visit:, Encore Tickets, See, Love, Theatre Tickets or Last


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