Interview: Chioma Uma on Brief Encounter, ‘Each character’s essence is woven into the music that we play’

by Jim Keaveney

It’s the story many of us are familiar with, even if we haven’t seen the classic film; a chance encounter in a train station tearoom kindles a timid, yet passionate, love affair between a married doctor and a suburban housewife, the two are forced to question if it’s worth risking everything for the sake of love.

Brief Encounter, adapted by award-winning theatremaker Emma Rice, has all the drama of the original masterpiece with added live music, comedy and spectacle, taking you on a rollercoaster ride through all of love’s beautiful complications.

The UK tour,  directed by the New Wolsey Theatre’s new Chief Executive Douglas Rintoul who has previously directed Made in Dagenham, Private Lives and All My Sons, sees a cast that includes Nicola Bryan,  Hanora Kamen, Tom Self and Chioma Uma bring the show back to life.

Ahead of opening in Salisbury, I caught up with Uma to find out more about bring this classic tale to life.

Q&A with Chioma Uma

What can you tell us about this production of Brief Encounter?

It’s a journey of two ordinary people who find an unexpected, romantic devastating love: The life cycle of spontaneous human connection.

How does the production compare to the classic film version?

Each character’s essence is woven into the music that we play, both as our characters and as fellow spectators.

You’re playing Dolly Messiter – how have you approached the character?

By understanding how her presence permeates the couple’s connection in their story. There’s a simultaneous naivety and cunningness about Dolly that she uses to her advantage when she becomes aware of it.

How does it feel to be taking the production on tour? 

It’s exciting because I get to witness the delight that we, as a company, will bring by sharing this story to the audiences in a way that not many people would have experienced it, compared to the film.

How would you describe Brief Encounter to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

If you’re looking for a show that brings out the hopeless romantic in you, coupled with music that will melt your heart and characters that you can fall in love with throughout their lives, this is the show for you.

Brief Encounter opens at the Salisbury Playhouse on 31 March, then touring until 3 June.