The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk


The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

A Kneehigh & Bristol Old Vic Production

Written by Daniel Jamieson

Directed by Emma Rice

Kneehigh’s season of Asylum shows opened with The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, with Emma Rice directing her final work for the Cornish company she loves. No surprise then that Emma leaves them with a glorious love story, a tale of artists, politics and war, filled with music and laughter – all the ingredients at the very core of Kneehigh’s being.
This magnificent two handed work of art follows the turbulent lives of Russian artist Marc Chagall and his wife Bella as they love and, sometimes, loathe each other. Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson play the lovers to perfection, from their first appearance we immediately become entwined in their passion for each other and are carried along through the good times until their world turns upside down under the weight of racism and revolution.
Music is never incidental with Kneehigh, instead is an ever present part of the narrative and Lovers is no exception; musicians Ian Ross and James Gow complement the story with evocative French cafe style songs as Chagall finds fame in Paris, seamlessly ramping up the tempo on the artist’s return to Vitebsk with lively Cossack dance tunes. Brisson and Antolin sing like angels as their voices soar across the theatre, sending shivers down the spine from beginning to end.
Sophie Clist’s timber framed set is wonderfully designed with a precarious looking sloping stage, which the actors glide seamlessly across as they live, love, dance and fight. Malcolm Rippeth’s superb lighting enhances and subtly reflects the changes from light to dark in the lovers’ dynamic relationship. Adding to this visual feast are painted banners, balloons and puppets all of which help to create the illusion of a much bigger cast.
Emma Rice leaves Kneehigh with a stunning goodbye which must surely become a Kneeigh classic, albeit one which will ultimately break your heart.

Sheila Vanloo
July 2016

Article by: Sheila V