Arts & Travel Editor
9:50 AM 22nd February 2018
Brighton Rock Ensemble - Credit Karl Andre Photography
Brighton Rock is one of Graham Greene’s so-called ‘Catholic novels’ and is riddled with more doctrine than a priest at the pulpit.
Greene was a complex man, and this is no more evident than in Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of the great writer’s 1938 work, in which he explores recurring themes of right and wrong, mortal sin and morality, all key drivers within the Roman Catholic religion.
Gloria Onitiri as Ida and Shamira Turner as Old Crowe - Credit Karl Andre Photography
Sociopath Pinkie, played brilliantly by Jacob James Beswick at York Theatre Royal in this joint production with Pilot Theatre, is the antihero in this beautifully lit production which is almost permanently in shadow, so that the sinister, foreboding nature of what is always around the corner, translates beautifully from page to stage.
The use of two musicians was also an inspired choice by Lavery in this fast-moving noir thriller, because the continual presence of paced drum beats and eerie rhythms is key to building the sense of drama and shattered lives that is Brighton Rock.
Sarah Middleton as Rose and Jacob James Beswick as Pinkie - Credit Karl Andre Photography
Charles "Fred" Hale is in town making a few quid as a newspaper competition promoter. But he is also the man who betrayed a local gang of thugs in a previous life and gets spotted and marked for what he is, a snitch by any other name. This leads him to fall under the eye of new gang leader, Pinkie and, eventually, the Brighton boy makes sure the interloper pays with his life.
Beswick’s Pinkie is nervous, shifty and totally believable as a man permanently on the edge and capable of anything. As he seeks to cover his tracks with lie after lie only Rose, his besotted girlfriend, can threaten his manufactured story.
Sarah Middleton is Pinkie’s infatuated lover whilst Gloria Onitri as Ida is the ‘afraid of no one’ working class girl, who seeks to expose Pinkie and tries to prevent Rose from pressing the self-destruct button after marrying her psychotic boyfriend. She is infatuated, he knows that a ‘wife’ cannot give evidence against a husband. Deep down he hates her and resents the need for an ‘enforced marriage’.
Brighton Rock is about the sinister underworld of testosterone teens, gang warfare, protection rackets, egos and ruined lives. It is a fast-moving and gripping drama that is sure to keep you on your toes. A rewarding evening of intelligent theatre that is well directed and well worth a visit.
York Theatre Royal
Until March 3rd. Also at Hull Truck theatre 20-24th March.