The Brideshead Revisited stage production opened earlier this week in Brighton and has been reviewed in today’s Brighton Argus. The review is by Neil Vowles who finds that the play falls short of expectations:
Without Oxford, Venice or Brideshead’s grand architecture, and with Sebastian more infantile than precocious, it’s hard to understand what seduces Charles so immersively…What is added by a very noticeable microphone is unclear in most scenes but the bold use of different single block colour backdrops is striking…In the second half the production grows stronger with a clever use of ropes and wheely chairs to recreate a ship in a storm as Julia and Charles are reunited while the staging of Charles’s new art exhibition is beautifully done. In the end the play is a pleasing reminder of the brilliance of Evelyn Waugh and Jeremy Irons and a pleasant introduction to those yet to savour either.
The Argus earlier printed an article in which its reporter Adrian Imms interviewed the play’s director Damian Cruden who explained why it took so long for a stage adaptation to appear:
Cruden puts the lack of stage time to date down to other directors being mindful of taking the wrong approach: “Perhaps it has been a case of worrying that, with such a loved novel, people will be disappointed by the approach taken. So these well-loved pieces require careful handling.”… He says, “Adaptation requires things to go – one can never get everything in. The job is to compress the content into particular moments that carry the bigger meaning. Finding the balance between showing and telling is key. To show what happens is far stronger than just telling the story.”
…He says, “I think this version sees the novel through the prism of our world now. It focuses much more on the discussion around faith and less about homosexuality. Our production is an abstraction, as are all stage plays, so we are much more engaged with the notion of suggestion and imagination in the form of the piece.”
The play continues in Brighton until Saturday after which it moves to Oxford where it opens next week on Tuesday, 14 June at the Oxford Playhouse.
NOTE (9 June 2016): Another review of the Brighton performance appeared in the online theatrical news site theatresoutheast.com. This is by Sammi O’Neill who concluded:
Trying to capture this monumental book in a mere two hours is bound to be a challenge and unfortunately the pacing of the play is disjointed, many of the early scenes are fast paced and don’t allow enough character development. Yet in the second act the production slows right down and conversations are detailed and much more enjoyable. If you can put aside your grand preconceptions, you won’t be disappointed with this slick adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.