Review: “Brief Encounter” Fuses Film and Music for a Phenomenal Theatre Experience

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Joe Alessi, Dorothy Atkinson, Annette McLaughlin, Damon Daunno and Hannah Yelland in "Brief Encounter." (Jim Cox)

Joe Alessi, Dorothy Atkinson, Annette McLaughlin, Damon Daunno and Hannah Yelland in "Brief Encounter." (Jim Cox)

Noël Coward’s  “Brief Encounter” made its Los Angeles premiere at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of Beverly Hills.

This production, directed by Emma Rice, has been showcased over the years as an adaptation from Noël Coward’s 1936 play “Still Life” in conjunction with the 1945 film Brief Encounter.

“Brief Encounter,” starring Hannah Yelland, Jim Sturgeon, Daunno, Annette McLaughlin, Dorothy Atkinson, Joe Alessi, David Brown, and James Gow, depicts two married couples that experience a forbidden desire after meeting in a train station tearoom. This show is absolutely captivating and engaging, and from the moment you enter the theater you are transported in time to the 1930’s with the sweet melodies of a live band and cast that instantly immerses into the story.

Through musical numbers and film projections, this small intimate cast of only eight actors seamlessly and effortlessly take you from one scene to the next. “Brief Encounter,” which has no intermission, keeps you captivated and engaged the whole time. Yelland and Sturgeon have lots to do with that, given that they each provide an impeccable performance.

The production takes you on an emotionally and sexually-charged roller coaster as the lead actors go through their affair of “tender agony.” We see how Laura (Yelland) and Alec (Sturgeon) are “people trapped by the bargains that they have freely made-they have bargained their inner lives for stability, family, and love.”

In “Brief Encounter,” we see somewhat of a dreamlike romance that contains much humor.

The show depicts a very sharp contrast between the monotonous life Laura leads at home, and the exciting, vibrant encounters she has with her lover, which helps convey the appeal of such an illicit affair.

The scenery and imagery used in the play was instrumental in lightening up the more somber parts of the production.

Rice really does an amazing job at captivating Coward’s play and making us question and imagine, “Can many of us go through a lifetime without meeting someone and feeling a spark of recognition that we shouldn’t, an attraction that goes beyond the physical?”

This particular piece is well-worth the ticket price, ranging from $50-$99. It will definitely have you looking at your everyday brief encounters in a different way.

“Brief Encounter” is now playing at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with shows available Tuesday through Sunday at various times.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Daizy Neri is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter: @CaliD15
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