Saturday, 2 July 2016

'The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk' at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Last week we went to see 'The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk' at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe. I knew nothing about the play other than it was about the love of Marc and Bella Chagall so, naturally, I had to get tickets as soon as they went on sale. Bella was his muse for so many paintings - so many paintings of flying lovers, too - and I wanted to know more. The play is by Daniel Jamieson who wrote it 20 years ago but I've not heard of to before.

The play is essentially a double-header with just Marc and Bella for most of the time, joined occasionally by two musicians on stage. It opens with their first meeting before he vanished to Paris to learn his craft and to start becoming famous but not rich. He returns to Vitebsk in Belarus to marry Bella with the aim of returning to Paris but they get trapped there by the First World War and have to make the best of it. They survive through the Russian Revolution and eventually move on to France and then America where Bella dies during the Second World War. The play ends with Marc having lunch with the ghost of Bella - he's re-married by now but his new wife isn't his muse - and I loved the simple 'Sorry' to Bella for having re-married. She doesn't seem to mind.

This play is part of the 'Wonder' season, Emma Rice's first season as Artistic Director for the Globe, and is full of whimsy and simple magic. It fits right in with the 'wonder' theme - suspend your judgement and fall into the world this play creates, the magic and joy of love, and release your imagination. I loved it.

I wasn't desperately keen on the set with it's wooden poles sticking out all over the place but I loved the colour-washes that covered the stage with the newly installed lights.
Marc Antolin played Marc and Audrey Brisson played Bella and they had a lovely stage presence. I've seen Marc in plays before (including 'Into The Woods' and 'Taken at Midnight') and it was nice to see him in this dreamy production. Audrey is new to me and is definitely worth watching out for in future.

It's a gentle little play and I loved it. I'm very pleased that I've seen it. I even bought a programme.

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