‘THE WILD BRIDE’ at Berkeley Rep

Photos courtesy of kevinberne.com

First of all, let me just say that I’m so glad this doesn’t have to be one of those ‘I saw this awesome play but it’s sold out and ending soon so you’re out of luck’ posts, because…I just got word that Kneehigh Theatre’s production of The Wild Bride at Berkeley Rep has been extended until Jan 22.

This is very good for you, because this play is freaking amazing, and you now have more than a month to get tickets. But don’t wait to get tickets, because it will probably sell out, because everyone I’ve read or talked to is in love with it, most especially people who are into theatricality and wit and indie theater sensibility, which I assume includes everyone who reads this blog, which presumably includes you.

Okay. Where to start? Well, how about with Emma Rice, artistic director of Kneehigh Theatre and the one who adapted (from a Grimm’s fairy tale) and directed this play. In an article she wrote for the program, she says:

The event of live theatre is a rare chance to deliver all these needs. We can have a collective experience, unique to the group of people assembled in the theatre. I don’t want the fourth wall constantly and fearfully placed between the actors and their audience; I want the actors to speak to their accomplices, look at them, to respond to them. I want a celebration, a collective gasp of amazement. I want the world to transform in front of the audience’s eyes and demand that they join in with the game.

Yes! So, the Cornwall-based theater company starts with that goal in mind, then develops work collectively, in some barns on the South Cornish Coast and in a giant tent called the Asylum, which makes it possible for their shows to travel around the world.

For this particular show, they started with a fairy tale, added in some actors who can also play Robert Johnson style blues, and came up with a stunning story about the Devil, a foolish father, an innocent girl, and the dangers of living in the forest with no hands.

Some of the visuals are so simple yet so perfect, still popping up in my brain weeks after having seen the show. In fact, some are clearly going to be moments that I refer to years from now, not unlike some of the most arresting images from a Mary Zimmerman play.

I won’t give anything more away. But I will urge you to check it out if you’re interested. I missed Brief Encounter, also by Kneehigh, when it came through the Bay Area a few years ago – and everyone talks about that thing being one of the highlights of their lives. So don’t be me!

(Disclosure: I was comp’d to this show. Captions: In photo 1, (l to r) Audrey Brisson, Stu McLoughlin, Stuart Goodwin and Éva Magyar, and in photo 2, (l to r) Patrycja Kujawska and Stuart Goodwin, performing at Berkeley Rep in the American premiere of The Wild Bride, a new show from the creators of Brief Encounter.)