Los Angeles Theater Feature: 946: THE AMAZING STORY OF ADOLPHUS TIPS (The Wallis)

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by Tony Frankel on February 1, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


I wonder if L.A. residents know how ridiculously lucky they are to have the Wallis Annenberg Center, an outfit so prestigious that Britain’s Kneehigh is bringing 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, their latest hit show, to the Bram Goldsmith Theater. 946 explores everything we thought we knew about the D-Day landings in this tender musical tale of love and war. The limited run begins on February 10, 2017, playing through March 5.

For anyone who saw Kneehigh’s ingenious and theatrically arresting Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter at the Wallis or the shocking and ravishing The Wild Bride at Berkeley Rep or the inventive Tristan & Yseult at South Coast Rep, you will no doubt rush to get tickets.  For those unlucky souls who have never seen the work of this estimable company, let me tell you that these magical theater-makers singlehandedly restored my faith in both theatrical imagination and storytelling.

Within the manifesto of Kneehigh—a world-class avant-garde theater outfit from Cornwall—is a simple but mighty statement: “Kneehigh tells stories.” By remaining on the fringe of theater as a business, this magnificently inventive, multi-talented, multi-cultural team of artists brings to the theater refreshing and persuasive theatrical storytelling. How? They start with a story and then work as a collective, one which uses improvisation, physical poetry, and music to discover the ingredients which will best serve the story. Kneehigh is an inspirational reminder that it is not just the story but the way in which it is told which will move, touch and arouse an audience. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that all of the actors move well, sing, act up a storm and play instruments.

Based on the beloved book by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, 946 is a tender coming-of-age tale that uncovers the secrets behind World War II’s D-Day landings. Set in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton Sands, the lives of Lily, her family, and her fiercely independent cat Tips are barely touched by war until American soldiers occupy their house and surrounding land. With a live onstage swing band, enchanting puppetry and Kneehigh’s signature stage sorcery, this story of love, war and prejudice–adapted by Morpurgo and Emma Rice, who also directs–crosses borders both geographical and generational.

photos of the Berkeley Rep production by Steve Tanner

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
Kneehigh, in association
with Birmingham Rep and Berkeley Rep
Bram Goldsmith Theater
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills
Tues-Fri at 8; Sat at 2 & 8; Sun at 2 & 7
ends on March 5, 2017
for tickets, call 310.746.4000 or visit the Wallis

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