Jenny Seagrove and Nigel Havers star in this BBC Radio 2 production of Noël Coward's classic tale of forbidden love.
Laura Jesson is a happily married woman until a chance encounter in a train station café draws her to Dr Alec Harvey. Literally bumping into each other brings temptation, danger and guilt into their lives and a doomed love affair ensues...
A classic love story, Brief Encounter was made into a much-loved and hugely successful film in 1945, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. This 2009 adaptation is faithful to Coward's original screenplay and features a distinguished cast including Jenny Seagrove and Nigel Havers.
The 'Classic Radio Theatre' range presents notable radio productions of much-loved plays by some of the most renowned playwrights, and starring some of our finest actors.
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Only if they had not seen the film! Seagrove and Havers are well cast (although the wonderful Nicholas Farrell is wasted) but it lacks the impact of the film and - perhaps overcompensating for the medium - Seagrove does sound somewhat hystrionic at points, contrary to the repression of the characters' emotions which is the crux of the story. Missed the Rachmaninov score too - why use it only at the end?
Laura is the centre of the story, and the conceit of having her narrate events to her - not listening, complacent - husband is brilliant, conveying her real isolation.
Perfect voices for roles but Seagrove overdoes it at times.
This is probably as good a radio adaptation as you could get - it's just that it's impossible to get close to the impact of the film.
I was slightly wary when I saw Brief Encounter was available, after all the film is iconic and surely the play would be very dated? But it is a real gem, Jenny Seagrove and Nigel Havers take on the mantles of Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard admirably and the rest of the cast are equally good . Although the story's morals are outmoded, they are charming and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance. Not for nothing was Nöel Coward called The Master.
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