Theatre Review: BRIGHTON ROCK – The Lowry, Salford

Sinister, suspenseful and incredibly inventive, Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of BRIGHTON ROCK is a chilling retelling of Graham Greene’s iconic novel

Acclaimed writer Bryony Lavery brings the dark underworld of Graham Greene’s iconic novel BRIGHTON ROCK to the stage with a chilling retelling of this brilliant and classic story.

Set in 1960s Brighton, BRIGHTON ROCK tells the story of Pinkie, a sociopathic teenage boy who takes over after the boss of his mob is killed. Soon, Pinkie and his girlfriend Rose get embroiled in a vicious gang war in Brighton where one brutal murder leads to the next. The police are impassive but the courageous and life embracing Ida Arnold wants the truth and is determined to see justice done, whatever the cost.

Esther Richardson directs the piece with a surreal edge which adds to the sinister nature of the performance. The decision to add movement and music to the piece is an inventive one with Jennifer Jackson’s movements perfectly enhancing the mood of each scene, the suspense of a chase or the excitement of a racetrack, which is also helped by musicians James Field and Laura Groves. Groves’ percussion seems to be constant and really keeps up the pace of the piece. Hannah Peel’s compositions are perfect for the performance and blend seamlessly with each scene and Jackson’s movements to create a fluid performance without one second of dead space.

Jacob James Beswick delivers a wonderful portrayal as Pinkie, bringing a dark energy to the character, displaying a swagger and confidence which develops into something deeper as the play progresses, showing us the scared boy beneath. Sarah Middleton is equally impressive as the naive young waitress, Rose, really coming to life in the second act. Though Rose initially comes across as innocent and unassuming, it soon becomes apparent that she is certainly not stupid and it’s hard not to feel sorry for her as she blindly follows Pinkie in whatever he does. A special mention also has to go to Gloria Onitiri who brings a liveliness to the story as the colourful and humorous Ida and though she is brash, there’s a warmth to her portrayal.

All of the ensemble are fantastic, working together as a group but also individually portraying multiple, distinct characters. It’s a testament when an actor can play five different characters in one piece, all of which are widely different and discernible without being charactertures.

This new adaptation of BRIGHTON ROCK is incredibly inventive and takes risks with it’s techniques, which pay off. It is sinister, suspenseful, and far from boring. It’s a must see for fans of thrillers and crime drama, but also has lots of depth and deeper messages. There’s never a dull moment, so definitely see it if you get the chance.

4 out of 5 stars

BRIGHTON ROCK runs at The Lowry, Salford until 26 May 2018.