By Alan Davies
Sunday, November 3, 2013
A Matter of Life and Death plays at the Barn Theatre, in Welwyn Garden City, this week.
It is 1945. A young airman jumps to certain death from his burning bomber.
His last words are to a girl he has never met: “I love you, June. You are life and I’m leaving you.”
However, due to an angelic blunder, caused by a classic English pea-souper, Peter Carter miraculously survives and then finds June in the flesh.
But things are not so simple and complications follow. To stay alive, Peter is forced to take himself, and the heavenly authorities, to the Universal Court of Appeal.
Adapted by Tom Morris and Emma Rice and based on the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, A Matter of Life and Death plays at the Barn Theatre until Saturday, November 9.
Following his ‘miraculous’ escape, Peter’s celestial escort finally catches up with him and insists that he should go up to Heaven.
Peter protests that through no fault of his he’s on Earth, has met and fallen in love with a pretty American girl from Boston. He shouldn’t be made to go.
His escort questions him – how does he know that he’s in love?
Peter answers that if he’s given 50 more years he’ll prove it.
The play that the Barn Theatre is putting on is based on the stage adaptation of the film by world-famous Kneehigh Theatre.
Inspired by Powell and Pressburger’s 1946 movie starring David Niven and Kim Hunter, this wildly romantic tale was first performed on stage at the National Theatre in May 2007.
It was much praised for the ingenuity of its re-imagination of a story better suited to the screen than the stage.
The play captures the mystical and magical quality of Powell’s film beautifully and will transport the audience from the humdrum reality of everyday life to the realm of the imagination.
Directed by Jan Palmer Sayer, there are performances nightly at 8pm, with an additional matinee on the final Saturday at 2.30pm.