Still Life (Brief Encounter) @ C Aquila
The original 1936 Noel Coward play which became the film classic Brief Encounter in 1945 caused controversy, portraying an implied affair at a time when the Hays censorship code was still in place. Today, it's considered tame and quaint, but even so, this adaptation is anaemic.
Coward admittedly is hard to get exact: too plummy and you run the risk of caricature, à la Harry Enfield's Mr Cholmley-Warner: too stilted and it's an underplayed melodrama. But when the leading man Alec and his secret would-be lover Laura feel so flat and with no sexual chemistry, it is hard to invest any emotion in their respective fate.
So it is with Dead Posh's production – it feels a little under-rehearsed. There are some nice touches, such as a lovely set (all the action happens in the tea shop, not the railway station ) and the months of the year popping up to denote a lapse of time on suitcases, files etc, but the peripheral characters of salty Albert (David Levesley) the station master and tea shop owner Myrtle (Juliet Clark, her every eye roll a treat) and their nascent flirtations steal every scene. Laura's gossiping friend Dolly (Eleanor Adams) is also very fine, her gushing bringing a bit of personality.
Still Life should simmer with unspoken longing and stolen glances, but it's all a little beige – and no amount of tea and cake could revive it. A real shame.