Marc and Bella Chagall are The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, directed by Emma Rice and presented by Kneehigh. They are immortalised as the picture of romance and as they are confessing they want to waste their lives with one another we,the audience, are taken on their colourful, surreal journey as their love is woven through the cracks and creases of 20thcentury Europe.
The cast is made up of two main leads, Marc played by Marc Antolin and Bella played by Daisy Maywood who are supported onstage by two musicians who sculpt the action, offering pace and atmosphere through their live music. From the beginning of the piece it feels authentic and time specific,we are drawn in to their songs, rhythms and their past.
The staging consists of a central suspended wooden platform, with beams and ropes connected creating an earthy playground for Marc and Bella’s love. The idea of suspensionand flight is played with throughout the piece, creating striking imagery. Marc and Bella are often hanging from the ropes or holding one another’s weight as if the dynamic duo’s love could defy gravity itself. The versatility of the set aided the story telling of their journey together; a simple phone hanging from a branch or a clock chiming from a wooden beam. The slight details of Sophie Clist’s design kept the action snappy and helped us delve head first into Marc and Bella’s world.
Although The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk captures romance and passionate it does not shy away from hardships weather that be religion, the Russian revolution or a leaky roof. Marc and Bella are truly a force who face struggles hand in hand; Bella’s love becomes an art form as her dedication to Marc helps their love stay in flight. Marc, a painter and Bella, an aspiring writer, learn that although they’re looking through the same pair of glasses, they see different things. Asking the lovers what is more important to them, their creativity, their new-born child, their family back in Vitebsk? Watching the couple battle these hardships together is captivating and we feel truly invested in their love and their struggles.
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is a kaleidoscope of life, laughterand loss. Rice’s production wraps you up in the true joy and excitement of love leaving you in awe of Marc and Bella’s story. A heartfelt portrayal from Antolin and Maywood, filling the room with an overwhelming sense of love and romance. A beautiful piece of theatre.