Cornish company Kneehigh bring their bold and big-hearted brand of theatre to Chichester, and their latest show is a triumph on every level.
The Wild Bride is based on an ancient folk tale, The Handless Maiden, and contains many familiar fairy story elements. Its mythical narrative, epic scale and sense of magic are perfectly suited to Kneehigh’s imaginative style and director Emma Rice employs countless theatrical devices to transport the audience to a world of beauty, love, comedy and brutality. At its heart, though, is the joy of simple storytelling.
Amongst the many highlights are Stuart Goodwin’s hilarious turn as the ludicrously Scottish Prince, and Patrycja Kujawska’s remarkable physical transformation from young woman into feral exile. The singing voice of Audrey Brisson is stunning, and Eva Magyar’s dancing manages to be combine grace, vulnerabilty and power. Stuart McLoughlin’s Devil is a commanding, malevolent yet charismatic presence throughout.
The blues soundtrack, brilliantly executed by the actors and lead musician Ian Ross, drives the story forward and roots it in a more contemporary timeframe than I expected, but Bill Mitchell’s design creates a timeless, wildly natural world. This is theatre at its inventive best – joyous, exhilarating, unmissable.