Kneehigh’s Rebecca

I’m Alive

Guess who’s back?

So let’s not make excuses. I’ve been lazy. I kept up this blog for about a year and then I gave up. Maybe it was because I got bored, maybe it was because I knew no one really reads this, maybe it was because my university and personal life got busier. But I know they are kind of excuses. I like reviewing stuff, I don’t write my blog to gain popularity, my life is manageable. I stopped because I am a procrastinator. And I’m starting to realise I’m losing my life to randomly scrolling through time-wasting websites and watching stupid videos on YouTube.

But what meaningful experience do I get from that? Do I ever remember any of the silly cat videos? Do I ever treasure the moment of binge-watching Marcus Jone’s Vines? I’ve watched so much of the stuff, that it’s all become one jumbled of webcomics and flash games in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with scrolling through Facebook or posting a Yak from time to time, but not when you waste the day scrolling through comment upon comment in a forum thread. I want true experiences.

I recently read The Minimalists‘ blogpost on making a damn decision, and found the answer to my problem. I’m procrastinating because it’s easy, and I refuse to make the decision to stop. Just one more episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and then I’ll write that essay, and make that video, and read that book, and practice that drawing, and cook that recipe, and plan that holiday plan… Do you see how bad my priorities are right now?

I need to make a change. I must. And one thing I must start doing is making it work. For example, this post is making it work. I have an exam tomorrow where I hope to write on Hitchcock, and what better way to get me in the mood is by reviewing a play about a book which he adapted…? Okay, so maybe I’m pushing the boundaries, and I realised halfway through writing that I’ve reviewed this before, but it wasn’t very long and I love giving Kneehigh the attention it deserves.

Blog posts are starting every Sunday again. I’ll move up to more when I’m ready. Small steps, guys. Anyway, it is time to restart Vinci’s Pick!

P.S. Black bars are SPOILERS, and can be viewed by highlighting them (try below).

Enjoy the Pick!

THE PLOT: The mystery of Rebecca! After Maxim de Winter marries the new Mrs. de Winter, she is taken back to his home Manderley, where she is to run the estate as Maxim’s previous wife, Rebecca, had done before her. Rebecca’s name is on every piece of furniture and on everyone’s lips as the perfect wife. With the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers putting psychological pressure on Mrs. de Winter, she tries to understand how to compete with Rebecca and understand the mystery that surrounds Manderley and Rebecca’s untimely death.

It’s probably best to explain how Kneehigh operate. They usually work with creative adaptation, taking a piece of work and adapting it to theatre in an unusual, creative way. Kneehigh use puppets, crazy staging, a blend of comedy and drama, multi-roleplay, and impromptu dance sequences.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Honestly, if you’re going into Kneehigh expecting a down-to-earth, no funny business, Hitchcock thriller, then you’ve come to the wrong show. You cannot anticipate what Kneehigh will do next, which is what I love about the whole play. One minute Mrs. de Winter is being psychologically probed by Mrs. Denvers, the next a puppet dog starts to wee on a chair. I’ve heard that some people were surprised by the comedy, and it really depends on who you are; you will either be pleasantly surprised or bitterly uninterested.

I found most of the inclusions in this adaption brilliant. The character Robert, a small Welsh boy who helps around Manderley, had me in stitches as he excitedly picks up the phone and proceeds to small-talk about his mother’s “hot flushes down in her Tupperware”, and adorably omits his goodbye for the replacement of:

Maxim: You can go now Robert.
Robert: Yes sir... Mr. de Winter?
Maxim: Yes?
Robert: Love you [side-smiles at the audience and scuttles away].

The stage-design is a masterpiece to-boot. As you can see in the video above, the mansion of Manderley effortlessly changes into the beach with a few movements of planks and cloths to create an abandoned summer-house by the sea. The play even opens with a boat and a body floating down to lock into the stage. That is some theatre magic.

You would think that with an accompanying chorus of people singing and dancing, and a clever little dance routine in the middle of the interval, that the adaption would become tedious. However, the end of the play was a bit of a let down. Everything was fine until the climactic revelation that reveals Rebecca and Maxim actually hated each other, and that she had numerous affairs while married to him. Rebecca mocks Maxim about her pregnancy with another man, and falls on a table. He disposes of the body at sea so that he may never be accused of murdering her.

The comedy wore off, the drama was too thick, and the creative adaption techniques were confusing to the narrative. Surely there must have been a better way to show
Manderly burning down rather than standing still, holding torches?

Despite this, I found Kneehigh to be an innovative theatre company, and have been waiting ever since that day to see another one of their performances. Perhaps I’ll go to London to watch Kneehigh’s 946 in the summer!

VERDICT: 8/10 – Yes, I’ve marked it down from the original, get over it.

See you on Sunday. To a new start… again.