Touring – reviewed at The Lowry, Salford
Guest reviewer: Daniel Shipman
The Lowry’s Week 53 festival continues with this new adaptation of Brighton Rock. The festival theme of ‘coming of age’ seems to have been stretched pretty far in the search for content – I’m not sure Pinky’s violent adolescence speaks to many people as a coming of age – but that doesn’t necessarily stand in the way of a good night of theatre.
Bryony Lavery’s snappy adaptation sheds light on the character of Ida, and Gloria Onitiri does this great justice. I’ve never been a huge fan of Brighton Rock as a novel or a film, but this foregrounding of a previously smaller character makes the story much more accessible. The women of the piece are given an equal footing here where in the past they have been second class characters, and the story benefits hugely.
Sara Perks’ dynamic set design is used to great effect by the cast to tour us through the parades, pubs and piers of Brighton. This is topped off by Adam McCready’s evocative sound design, which fills the gaps left by the sparse, highly moveable set. Hannah Peel’s compositions alternately complement and overwhelm the scenes which they feature in – sometimes feeling perfectly at home and at other times lending the whole piece a slightly comic, over the top atmosphere.
The first act is excellent, but after a strong start, the second act loses some of the vital pacing and soon begins to drag. It doesn’t quite spoil the evening but it certainly had me checking my watch. The show is worth a visit for the new perspective it brings to the story, but be prepared for a slow second act.