Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk has returned to the theatre this week for just four performances (including a Saturday matinee). If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket you’re in for a treat.

Directed by Emma Rice, who starred in the original version back in 1992, Flying Lovers has all the ingredients necessary for perfect musical theatre. There are strong characters, a compelling story, great music and choreography, a lovely set, and excellent lighting. But it’s far from your average musical theatre show. It’s sort of gentle, simple, understated, and above all, beautiful.

It tells the story of Marc Chagall and his first wife Bella. Theirs is a love story, there’s no doubt of that. But he can’t have always been easy to love, his passion for art making him more than a little selfish. And they were Jews living through the most turbulent of times, always on the move simply to keep safe.

Audrey Brisson, playing Bella, is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. She was fantastic in The Grinning Man last year and in La Strada a few months ago, and this role could’ve been written for her. Marc Antolin, who hasn’t even had to get used to a new name for his part, is equally good and there’s a great chemistry between them.

Joining them on stage are musicians James Gow and Ian Ross. Ian composed the score and, like everything else about this show, it is perfect. I particularly enjoy the joyful Jewish folk music they play at Marc and Bella’s wedding.

Flying Lovers is a show that will make you laugh often, frown from time to time at the unfairness of persecution, and maybe even shed a tear. Mostly though, it will make you smile.

Kneehigh will return to Bristol Old Vic in November, with a brand-new show The Tin Drum. It’s described as “a folktale for troubled times: one political, profane and profound” and I’m willing to bet it’ll be brilliant. Tickets are on sale now!

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