‘I’m a happily married woman. Or rather I was until a few weeks ago. This is my whole world and it’s enough, or rather it was until a few weeks ago’

ENTERING the foyer of the Torch Theatre felt like travelling back in time to the 1940s. There were usherettes dressed in period costumes, old fashioned standard lamps and a bustling atmosphere with people looking forward to the Torch Theatre’s big autumn show.

Noel Coward’s much-loved Brief Encounter was a 1945 multi Oscar nominated British film by David Lean. I haven’t seen the original film and didn’t know much about the story, this description was all I had to go on.

So when I took my seat close to the front of the theatre and the two seats in the front row were empty, I was a little puzzled. This quickly became clear as the lead actors Laura, a middle class wife and mother, and Alec a doctor, again with a wife and children, took their seats in the theatre in the front row and we all began to watch the very clever use of black and white cinema footage being projected on the main stage, from the original film from 1945, as if the actors were viewing the film in a cinema, on one of their Thursday afternoon ‘encounters’.

It became very clear that the original film would play a big part in the story with the current actors literally going through the screen and then appearing in the old footage.

The main actors that form the story were joined by a very funny additional cast, including the band, who doubled up as other characters throughout the play, as well as the tea shop workers, who did the same. There were other love stories going on with these actors as well as the main plot line.

The set as always at the Torch Theatre for a big production was extremely clever as a platform tea shop, where people met and had ‘Brief Encounters’, whilst waiting for their train. The set was versatile and more than doubled up during the play, changing from the tea shop, to Laura’s front room, to a lake, a restaurant etc.

The acting was extremely good, I thought Laura Penneycard as Laura and Matt Wilman as Alec were excellently cast, falling believably in love, as were all other cast members, who showed how versatile they were, with changing roles, playing in the band, singing, and cracking jokes aplenty. The story was told through emotion, cinema projections, funny interactions with the audience, singing and lots of music.

Be very prepared to laugh out loud and possibly shed a tear during this performance, it felt like being on a rollercoaster that I didn’t want to get off; I certainly didn’t want the ride to end. Don’t miss it, and support your local theatre company at the same time.

You can see Brief Encounter at the Torch Theatre until October 24 at various times. Call 01646 695267 or visit torchtheatre.co.uk for more details.