THE FLYING LOVERS OF VITEBSKKneehigh
at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
This is Emma Rice's Kneehigh swansong. And, from the Bristol Old Vic, she's brought it to her new home, Shakespeare's Globe.
Sophia Clist's bold, bulky wooden structure sits slightly uneasily in the Jacobean playhouse, but the enhanced candlelight suits this atmospheric, nostalgic tale perfectly, while the intimacy of the space brings a powerful emotional heft to Daniel Jamieson's lively, wistful two-hander.
Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson play painter Marc Chagall, child-like, Chaplinesque, and his muse, and first wife, Bella Rosenfeld.
“We can pack all the things we love in Vitebsk into our minds and take them with us,” she tells him, and so they do – the green cows, the rabbis, and of course their airborne alter egos travel to Petersburg, Paris, New York … The devoted Bella sees Marc brush off war, revolution, anti-semitism, fatherhood, as he focuses passionately on his work.
Past blends with present in a playful, poignant piece which resonates long after the music has faded. Ian Ross, the MD, with James Gow, provide an evocative accompaniment, as well as supernumerary support. The old Inkspots number which opens the show is reprised as an encore, suiting the narrative and the mood to perfection.
Back in the 90s, Rice played Bella, we're told. This revival, exquisitely directed, full of imaginative touches and flowing, flying movement, blends theatre and fine art in a moving memoir of the painter as a young man.